So you can read my books

Sunday, August 31, 2014

In the shadows, CANCER plays a deadly hand

Michael di Gesu:

is doing THE BIG C BLOGHOP September 15th 

to help Melissa Bradley with her expenses as she fights cancer. 

Write a story about cancer. They are trying for comical, uplifting, inspirational.  (Quite a chore, right?)

My mother died of breast cancer.  My best friend is dying of it.  Their stories are theirs to tell. 

Cancer has so many variables.  How to write something that speaks to each one?

So what to do?

Sam McCord came to my rescue as he often does in my story, PLAY THE HAND YOU'RE DEALT 2 weeks early:

"All of us have a path to follow, and that path begins in the heart."
- Samuel McCord

The gas lights gleaming from his bald head, the young boy in the wheelchair looked up at me.

"Gosh, Capt. McCord, I always wanted to see the insides of Meiloiri's."

He sipped his ice tea held with unsteady hands.  "To think a hero like you'd make time for just a kid with cancer like me."

The ghost of Mark Twain sat down beside the boy and winked.

"There ain't no just kids to Sam.  And you're the hero.  Me & Capt. Sam, why we get so jim-jammed with fright sometimes we get all turned around and actually RUN to danger instead of AWAY FROM it!"

A flurry of snowflakes slowly formed in the chair beside me into a tall, regal woman in white buckskins & lightning hair.


Eyes the color of her name pierced me.  "This poker game has the potential of a loaded gun."

Mark nudged the frightened boy with a wink.  "Mother Nature there sure sucks the joy clean outta the air, don't she?"

The boy clutched my arm as the 3 remaining players pulled up their chairs and sat down.

The bald man in grey Armani grinned like a skull.  "Am I late?"

I said, "You always come too soon, Cancer. I see you brought your usual companions, Despair and Hopelessness."

 Cancer smiled at the trembling boy.  "Ah, I see you recognize them as well.  They keep you company with me in the long, long watches of the night."

"I heard that," I said.  "That's why I set up this game."

Cancer laughed like the breaking of brittle bones.  "You cannot win."

I patted the boy's shaking fingers.  "Watch us."

Cancer drew out a deck from his inside jacket pocket.  "I'll deal the cards."

His shark smile widened.  "I always do."

I patted the boy's tightening fingers.  "It's not the cards you're dealt, son, but how you play them that counts."

The heavy fog called Hopelessness murmured, "You have Zero Chance, boy." 

Mark refused to look at his dealt cards, winking at the boy.  "You know what the Zero said to the Eight?"

"N-No, sir."

"Why, ain't that a lovely belt you're wearing!"

The boy laughed, and the fog thinned though it growled.

Mark nodded to the threatening fog.  "What did the right eye say to the left one?"

The boy shook his head.  "What?"

"Between you and me something smells!"

The boy laughed so hard that ice tea came out of his nose, and Hopelessness faded away completely.

The man-shaped leech called Despair murmured, "Laughter won't stop the pain, boy!"

The boy cocked his head.  "I-I do hurt less now."

Despair whispered, "But the pain kept you up all last night."

Turquoise Woman sent a spiral of snowflakes shimmering to the boy.  

"And so you were awake to see my sunrise, were you not?  Was it not beautiful?"

"Oh, yes, ma'am!"

"All else in New Orleans slept thru it.  Only you saw it."

"Wow!  Really?"

"Really ... which is why I sent you the robins this morn to sit on your sil and serenade you."

"It was lovely, ma'am.  I heard them in my head all day."

Turquoise Woman smiled.  "See how much more you lived than everyone else in New Orleans?"

She stroked his cheek.  "The pain does not let you sleep thru life.  These past weeks you have lived on a level few ever achieve, appreciating what most take for granted."

I winked at the boy. "Know what you get when you quit?"

"N-No, sir."

"Neither do I.  I've won.  I've lost.  But I've never quitAll it takes is getting up one more time than they knock you down."

I patted his steady fingers.  "Each scar life gives us is a gift, son."

"It doesn't feel like a gift, sir."

"No, not at first.  But think on it, son.  Where we are unhurt is where we are unsure of who we really are.  Where we are wounded & healed is where we get to show what we're made of."

The boy's jaw firmed, and the leech called Despair disappeared.

 Cancer flipped over his cards.  They were a Royal Flush.  "I win!"

"No," calmly said Turquoise Woman.  "You lose."

She smiled like a new sunrise at the boy.  

"You may hold the boy for a season.  But only a season.  And even in that season, the boy decides if he chooses laughter and courage over despair and hopelessness."

Turquoise Woman gestured, and a robin fluttered on the boy's shoulder.  "If his treatment works, you will lose your hold on him."

Cancer sneered, "And if I kill him?"

 Turquoise Woman smiled wider.  

"Then, he goes to the Great Mystery where those like Mark Twain here will keep company with him for eternity.  And pain will not even be a memory."

I squeezed the boy's arm.  "Forever with laughter and love.  Not too bad, huh?"

Mark Twain nudged the now-smiling boy.  "You know what sound porcupines make when they kiss?"

"No, sir."


The boy covered his eyes and groaned, "That was terrible, sir!"

"Hey, whipper snapper, you got it for free!"

"I was over-charged," grinned the boy.

And Cancer got up and slowly walked away.




A&E Network's most-watched original drama series of all time,

will be ending its run on the cable network after three seasons.

In a surprising move, the network has opted not to renew the series for a fourth season.

Warner Horizon, the studio behind Longmire, will be shopping it immediately.

The White Wash:

“We would like to thank the phenomenal cast, crew and producers of Longmire, along with our partners at Warner Horizon, for their tireless work on three seasons of quality dramatic storytelling,”

A&E said in a statement. “We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved together.”


There has been a drive at A&E Networks to own a large portion of their scripted programming,

which was also the impetus behind the launch of A&E Studios.

Both Longmire and The Glades came from outside suppliers, Warner Horizon and Fox TV Studios, respectively.

What’s going on is that A&E doesn’t own the show outright, so they don’t want to pay for it anymore.

When a network buys a show from a production studio, (in this case A&E has been buying the show from Warner Horizon), they pay big bucks.

It’s a combination of this and the fact that A&E is moving back to unscripted, cheaper to produce, reality programming.


Friday, August 29, 2014


If you enjoyed THE HOBBIT,
you will find yourself absorbed and in love with HIBBS, THE CUB WITH NO CLUE.
Imagine a mysterious valley where all the myths of the world mingle and clash. 
Into this dreaded rift in realities wanders an innocent bear cub from the land of Lakota legend.
Trying to land a catfish, he catches a dragon
He irritates leprechauns and antagonizes killer unicorns.
He meets Ratatoskr, the Asgardian squirrel who spreads malicous gossip back and forth
from the dragon who gnaws at the roots of the World Tree
to the enormous eagle perched on the top of Yggdrasil, ever vigilant for the first signs of the Twilight of the Gods.
As he wanders, the mysterious Turquoise Woman teaches him lessons he will need to survive. 
The thick of head, big of heart cub never learns, but somehow always manages to survive.
His enemies are legion. 
His friends are few. 
His legend is just beginning.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
 -Dr. Seuss

Some neural scientists suggest that music confers no survival advantage and describe it as “auditory cheesecake.”

On the other hand, they suggest that fiction can, like gossip, be biologically adaptive.

 “Fictional narratives supply us with a mental catalogue of the fatal conundrums we might face someday 

and the outcome of strategies we could deploy in them."

Neil Gaiman mentioned the same thing in the YouTube video of yesterday on my blog. 

The brain, by itself, 
would have no mind. 

It requires the cooperation of the body in order to think and feel. 

It is this interaction between the brain and the body that causes the mind. 

Speaking of actually using the body, here is an interesting fact:

 A new study that compared the different brain processes used for writing by hand and typing 

has found that there are cognitive benefits to putting a pen to paper. 

These findings give support to the continued teaching of penmanship and handwriting in schools.

By the way, how legible is your handwriting these days?  :-)

Writing is more complicated because it integrates the following three brain processes:
  • Visual: Seeing what is on the paper in front of you.
  • Motor: Using your fine motor skills to actually put the pen to paper and form the letters to make the words.
  • Cognitive: Remembering the shapes of the letters requires a different type of feedback from the brain.
 As adults, we know that writing by hand is a much slower process than typing on a keyboard. 

And we’re all in a hurry to share our every thought with our social networking worlds. 

But, as an experiment, sit down and write a letter.

 See how different it feels to actually hold the pen and to have to plan out your thoughts. 

It’ll be good for your brain. 

Handwriting may be slower, and there is no spell check, 

but this is precisely why picking up a pen and writing your thoughts down on paper may actually help you exercise your brain.

 The latest findings from the real neuroscience of creativity suggest that 

the right brain/left brain distinction does not offer us the full picture of how creativity is implemented in the brain.  

Creativity does not involve a single brain region or single side of the brain.

 Instead, the entire creative process–

 from preparation to incubation to illumination to verification– 

consists of many interacting cognitive processes (both conscious and unconscious) and emotions. 

Depending on the stage of the creative process, and what you’re actually attempting to create, 

different brain regions are recruited to handle the task.

 Alice Flaherty, one of the most renowned neuroscientists researching creativity 

states an important ingredient to be creative is dopamine: The more dopamine that is released, the more creative we are.

 Typical triggers for events, that make us feel great and relaxed and therefore give us an increased dopamine flow 

are taking a warm shower, exercising, driving home, etc. The chances of having great ideas then are a lot higher.

Also being distracted helps:

 Jumping into the shower can turn into what scientist call the “incubation period” for your ideas. 

The subconscious mind has been working extremely hard to solve the problems you face 

and now that you let your mind wander, it can surface and plant those ideas into your conscious mind.

So are you stuck in your novel?  Hop into a warm shower!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


 Kristin Lamb wrote an intriguing post on how to write NO MATTER WHAT:

She points out that many of our noted writers were journalists, but forgot the two most famous:

 Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway.

When the bullets are flying and the forest fire blazing, your editor does not have time to wait for your muse to become inspired.

She equates journalism with blogging since it is a form of digital journalism.

And she is right: 

We have to be concise, engaging, and convey the most information using the fewest words possible.


Your novel is going nowhere.   

It will be buried under “wonderful moments” that tug at the heart and stalls your story.  

What is the story of LOTR

Is it Frodo throwing the Ring into the river of fire in Modor, or is it Frodo finding Frodo?

What is the story of GONE WITH THE WIND?   

Is it Scarlett hopelessly chasing Ashely Wilkes or vainly trying to retrieve the vanished South she loved?


Take the first face you see in the next crowd. Describe it in ways that would draw in a reader and accurately display what your eyes see.

What follows each major scene in your novel?  If it does not turn the reader’s expectation upside down, you’re going to bore her.


How to do that?   

Give them a character to root for, to relate to.  All humans bleed, hope, have their hearts broken.  

Have your heroine suffer those universal blows.   

Better yet have your antagonist suffer them as well.


Write every day.  Even if it is only a paragraph.  Write every day.

Make a Bonzai tree out of your novel.   

If you write 5 pages in the morning, refine them to 3 in the evening.


November is coming up.  Forget volumeFocus on value.

Have you ever read a novel and groaned, "Just get to the point!"

Don't do that to your reader.   

Raymond Chandler once wrote: "She gave him a look that jutted four inches out of his back."


It made me want to read on.

I hope that this helped in some small way.  If not, read Kristen Lamb's blog.  I know she will help you.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


D.G., Wendy, and other of my friends read my post of yesterday 

and wrote they would promptly turn off their cell phones when not in use to prevent government snooping.

Ah, those pesky buggers have thought of that.

Can someone truly bring your phone back to life without touching it? 


 But government spies can get your phone to play dead. 

 The NSA or the FBI can set up their own miniature cell network tower.

Your phone automatically connects to it. 

Now, that tower's radio waves send a command to your phone's antennae: the baseband chip.

That tells your phone to fake any shutdown and stay on.

A smart hack won't keep your phone running at 100%, though.

Spies could keep your phone on standby and just use the microphone -- or send pings announcing your location.

The only way you can tell is if your phone feels warm when it's turned off.

That means the baseband processor is still running.

Scary, right?

There literally is no place to hide. 

Murderers can remain at large for years, but let you get on the wrong side of the Intelligence Agencies -- BAM!

Of course, your phone does not have to be turned on to tattle on you.

 The software inside your phone pinpoints you whether it is on or not.


Something in your phone known as an accelerometer.

It's a tiny chip inside your phone that measures whether you're holding your phone horizontally or vertically, 

so the phone can alter its screen accordingly.

But in the same way your fingerprints are yours alone, so is your phone's signal.

Those imperfections mean your phone's unique signal can make your habits easy to track whenever your phone is in use.

Your phone's camera, gyroscope and microphones, among other parts, make you vulnerable as well.

That's any cell phone, too. Sigh.


Monday, August 25, 2014


Remember that scene in MINORITY REPORT,
where Tom Cruise is on the run from the law,
but is unable to avoid detection because everywhere he goes
there are constant retina scans feeding his location back to a central database?
That’s Tomorrow.
Today, Google is tracking wherever your smartphone goes, and putting an ominous Red dot on a map to mark the occasion.
You can find that map here.
All you need to do is log in with the same account you use on your phone,
and the record of everywhere you’ve been for the last day to month will erupt across your screen like measles.

We deny the cyber intrusion into our lives. 
We watch the latest on the Kardashians or Miley or Taylor, pop a diet soda,
and force the murmur of Big Brother into the back of our minds.
But just one look at a map of your movements for the past few days in Red, pimp-slaps some reality back into you.
Yet, we can trust the government, right?  Until you look towards Ferguson.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
                     - Christina Rossetti
 Popular literature has always denoted what society is running towards ... and from

 Take Horror.
 Horror Fiction authors and films have to appeal to the public interest,
 so the horror within their story has to reflect society’s current view of what is fearful.
 Consequently from this you can understand the context from when it was written.
 So if books begin to write more about the perverse nature of man, does this indicate a more perverse society?
 In another genere, great Crime fiction offers what no sociology text can provide,
 To feel the living, breathing essence of New Orleans, both pre- and post-Katrina,
 check out the Dave Robicheaux series by James Lee Burke.
 In like manner, Rock Music remains the most democratic of mass media—
 the only one in which voices from the margins of society can still be heard out loud.
 It does not so much influence society as reflect it.
 Take our current movie fascination with the Superhero --
What is a hero? 
There are many views on that. 
Part of the definition
would contain the thought
that a hero embodies what is best in ourselves,
rising above what we feel is the worst in us all.
 I believe CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER reflects the quandry of the common man
 in today's society --
 trying to fit into a world that no longer seems to believe in anything much beyond power and self-interest.
 It is the classic story of the Child learning that Adulthood was a tarnished dream after all.
 It is telling that every hero that enters into public consciousness has experienced 
 significant trauma in his or her life that has practically defined them,
 a trauma that serves to motivate them in their lives as superheroes
 (Batman and Spider-Man serve, of course. as the perfect examples),

  traumas to which they are, and will always be, unable to reconcile themselves or fully resolve.
 But though both Batman and Spider-Man will, out of necessity, never be able to reconcile
 their respective traumas, they do, in fact, manage to live with them ...
 As must we all -- and perhaps that is our fascination with superheroes:
that they do well what the rest of us struggle through day by day.
What do you think? 
What makes a hero? 
Does our literature, our entertainments
reflect who we are?
Is the emphasis on Lust rather than Love
in 50 SHADES OF GRAY symbolic
of what is felt
throughout our society?

Friday, August 22, 2014


Life has many distorting mirrors. 

Myth is one of them.  History, too, for it is written only by the winners.

Some time back, I wrote of driving down the Creole Nature Trail to a hospital on stilts.

Several of you have asked to see a photo of my hospital on stilts.

Sadly, like my character, Samuel McCord, I am a man of high hopes and low tech ...

meaning I have no digital camera.

But I do have this photo of the stilts before the hospital was placed upon them from the groundbreaking ceremony attended by former President Bush and actor George Clooney.

Fitting in with my post's title, these steel "stilts" are twice as tall as I am.

Perspective is everything.

Look at all the politicians we've elected, only to discover how stunted their high ideals are after the fact.

But the distorting mirror I'm referring to is fiction.

Fiction is not reflective of real life.

Unlike real life, fiction has to make sense. So we as authors fudge the facts of life to draw the reader in with the illusion of reality.

As Stephen King said: good fiction is the truth within the lie.What kind of literature did you first read?

I mean the genre that you chose to read and not your parents? The question is important. I'll tell you why in a moment.

As a young boy recently moved to Lafayette, Louisiana from Detroit, Michigan, I was isolated because of my strange accent, my lanky height, and lack of relatives.

I was the stranger, the outcast.

I found refuge in mythology.

My mother's tales of Lakota myths and Irish legends spurred me to investigate the school library on my own.

I discovered Edith Hamilton's MYTHOLOGY:

awe-inspiring tales of fearsome creatures, strong half-gods, and cunning heroes.

Zeus wasn't my father, but I could sharpen my wits to become Ulysses, who confounded the very gods of Olympus.

And the elegant, simple drawings by Steele Savage ensnared my imagination during boring classes.

I accepted these things as a child would -- uncritically.

My only measure was if I enjoyed the story.

Later as I grew a bit older -- able to reflect and reason, I found Sherlock Holmes and science fiction.

And in those twin genres, I discovered the value of reason -- but then Ulysses had already taught me the treasure of a keen mind.

And how I discovered the joy of reading influenced my style of writing.

As you no doubt have noticed, mythology plays an important part in my writing.

The lyrical poetry of Homer and the other Greek playwrights molded my sense of the dramatic and of expression.

Yet, even as my soul demands magic and poetry,

my mind is not satisfied unless I put reason behind the mad sorcery of my hero's adventures.

In essence, I do not write pure fantasy or pure science fiction -- but a blend of the two,

mixed in with the genre of the detective -- hence the frontier detective, Samuel McCord, part poet, part philosopher, and reluctant policeman.

But what of the distorting mirror?

Inside my, and your, brain is a compact world composed of all we have seen and experienced.

From that well, we draw for inspiration and stories.

Yet, that compact world is not
THE world.

We haven't experienced everything.

And the conclusions we have drawn from our experiences are as flawed as our limited grasp of the truth, colored as it is by culture, custom, and character.

Our novels are merely distorted reflections of what we have experienced.

Even we will admit that more is unknown to us than what is known.

Which to me is quite all right:

myths spring from the unknown and our trying to fill in the blanks.

History has proven to us that what was considered science last century was merely flawed, failed conjecture.

Which to me is just fine:

science fiction springs from those awesome two words:

What if?

So my fiction is a blend of myth and science, history and conjecture, ending into those wonderful words:

what if the impossible was possible? What then?

In the calculated lies of my fiction, I leave certain questions unanswered, certain areas shadowed for the reader to fill in.

Remember the scariest movie monster you ever flinched in fright from?

You never got a clear glimpse: just flashes of scales, slit eyes, and red, sharp teeth.

That was enough.

Your imagination filled in the rest with enough to give you shudders for sleepless nights afterward.

Besides, I do not know everything, and the artist in me craves to be honest.

The mythic beginning of things is always shrouded in mist and mystery.

Yet, this I do know:

In life there is dark as well as light -- and sometimes the dark wins.

I try to portray the full picture of what I know in my fiction. The fanciful scientist is often the one who makes the greatest discovery.

I guess you could call my genre: science fantasy.

Cold, hard facts can often lead us into the shadows where the dark unknown is waiting for us to reveal our minds' limitations and our fragile grasp on sanity and life.

So now, I re-ask you:

What kind of literature did you first start to read of your own free will?
Look at what you are writing now.
Look at how you write it.
Can you see the seeds of your style, your genre, in your first chosen books?

Let me know what you first started to read.
Tell me if my theory is reflected in the genres in which you write and the manner in which you write them.
Let's share secrets over the cyber-campfire, shall we? Bring your own cyber-marshmellows.
Here is Tarja singing
which evokes the spirit of this post: