Diabolical Giveaway

Diabolical
The new cover for Diabolical as of October 2020.

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that on every Friday in September (i.e. the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th), I will be giving away the Kindle version of my very small short story collection Diabolical: Three Tales of Vengeance and the Sorcerer Jack Thurston. Follow the link to get yours on any of those Fridays. Here is a quick synopsis from the book’s webpage:

“Jack Thurston is a retired professor of medieval literature and history. He is also a widower and father and a retired sorcerer who has returned to the black arts to exact horrifying revenge for the death of his wife, daughter, and brother. Jack has an intriguing position in the universe at a focal point of life, the afterlife, logic and reason, anger and hatred, the ancient and the modern worlds, grief and his attempts to escape grief through self-destruction. Though he wants to have the peace he once found with his wife, Agatha, he is pulled in many directions by circumstance and by his powerful negative emotions. These stories are included in the collection A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror.”

While you’re there, check out the other books I have available or go to Slattery Publishing to see what blank notebooks are available.

Check back on both pages frequently. I occasionally give away Kindle versions of my works. Unfortunately, Amazon won’t allow me to give away hard copies of my books, but I try to keep the prices as low as I can.

Although I am experimenting with different sizes, most of the notebooks are 6″ x 9″ and contain 200 lined, paginated pages with colorful covers. If you purchase one, please leave a review of it on Amazon, so that I can learn how to improve.

Diabolical Giveaway

Diabolical
The new cover for Diabolical as of October 2020.

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that on every Friday in September (i.e. the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th), I will be giving away the Kindle version of my very small short story collection Diabolical: Three Tales of Vengeance and the Sorcerer Jack Thurston. Follow the link to get yours on any of those Fridays. Here is a quick synopsis from the book’s webpage:

“Jack Thurston is a retired professor of medieval literature and history. He is also a widower and father and a retired sorcerer who has returned to the black arts to exact horrifying revenge for the death of his wife, daughter, and brother. Jack has an intriguing position in the universe at a focal point of life, the afterlife, logic and reason, anger and hatred, the ancient and the modern worlds, grief and his attempts to escape grief through self-destruction. Though he wants to have the peace he once found with his wife, Agatha, he is pulled in many directions by circumstance and by his powerful negative emotions. These stories are included in the collection A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror.”

While you’re there, check out the other books I have available or go to Slattery Publishing to see what blank notebooks are available.

Check back on both pages frequently. I occasionally give away Kindle versions of my works. Unfortunately, Amazon won’t allow me to give away hard copies of my books, but I try to keep the prices as low as I can.

Although I am experimenting with different sizes, most of the notebooks are 6″ x 9″ and contain 200 lined, paginated pages with colorful covers. If you purchase one, please leave a review of it on Amazon, so that I can learn how to improve.

Diabolical Giveaway

Diabolical
The new cover for Diabolical as of October 2020.

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that on every Friday in September (i.e. the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th), I will be giving away the Kindle version of my very small short story collection Diabolical: Three Tales of Vengeance and the Sorcerer Jack Thurston. Follow the link to get yours on any of those Fridays. Here is a quick synopsis from the book’s webpage:

“Jack Thurston is a retired professor of medieval literature and history. He is also a widower and father and a retired sorcerer who has returned to the black arts to exact horrifying revenge for the death of his wife, daughter, and brother. Jack has an intriguing position in the universe at a focal point of life, the afterlife, logic and reason, anger and hatred, the ancient and the modern worlds, grief and his attempts to escape grief through self-destruction. Though he wants to have the peace he once found with his wife, Agatha, he is pulled in many directions by circumstance and by his powerful negative emotions. These stories are included in the collection A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror.”

While you’re there, check out the other books I have available or go to Slattery Publishing to see what blank notebooks are available.

Check back on both pages frequently. I occasionally give away Kindle versions of my works. Unfortunately, Amazon won’t allow me to give away hard copies of my books, but I try to keep the prices as low as I can.

Although I am experimenting with different sizes, most of the notebooks are 6″ x 9″ and contain 200 lined, paginated pages with colorful covers. If you purchase one, please leave a review of it on Amazon, so that I can learn how to improve.

Diabolical Giveaway

Diabolical
The new cover for Diabolical as of October 2020.

This is just a quick note to let everyone know that on every Friday in September (i.e. the 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th), I will be giving away the Kindle version of my very small short story collection Diabolical: Three Tales of Vengeance and the Sorcerer Jack Thurston. Follow the link to get yours on any of those Fridays. Here is a quick synopsis from the book’s webpage:

“Jack Thurston is a retired professor of medieval literature and history. He is also a widower and father and a retired sorcerer who has returned to the black arts to exact horrifying revenge for the death of his wife, daughter, and brother. Jack has an intriguing position in the universe at a focal point of life, the afterlife, logic and reason, anger and hatred, the ancient and the modern worlds, grief and his attempts to escape grief through self-destruction. Though he wants to have the peace he once found with his wife, Agatha, he is pulled in many directions by circumstance and by his powerful negative emotions. These stories are included in the collection A Tale of Hell and Other Works of Horror.”

While you’re there, check out the other books I have available or go to Slattery Publishing to see what blank notebooks are available.

Check back on both pages frequently. I occasionally give away Kindle versions of my works. Unfortunately, Amazon won’t allow me to give away hard copies of my books, but I try to keep the prices as low as I can.

Although I am experimenting with different sizes, most of the notebooks are 6″ x 9″ and contain 200 lined, paginated pages with colorful covers. If you purchase one, please leave a review of it on Amazon, so that I can learn how to improve.

Writing Unorthodox Relationships #Writing #Author #Advice — James Harringtons Creative Work

Hi Jim, I have a rather unusual one for you. I’m trying to write a romance story dealing with two completely different species. However one of the characters who is going to be part of the relationship is only about 13 years old. Her race essentially reaches maturity at six years old, though […]

Writing Unorthodox Relationships #Writing #Author #Advice — James Harringtons Creative Work

Orwell’s ideas remain relevant 75 years after ‘Animal Farm’ was published — At the BookShelf

George Orwell’s writings have left a lasting imprint on American thought and culture. ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images Mark Satta, Wayne State University Seventy-five years ago, in August 1946, George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” was published in the United States. It was a huge success, with over a half-million copies sold in its first year. […]

Orwell’s ideas remain relevant 75 years after ‘Animal Farm’ was published — At the BookShelf

My Kind of Place to Write

Before the Coronavirus struck, I used to love to go to coffee shops or diners and write with a decent pen into a spiral notebook. I have a few dozens of these on my library shelves, where I would come up with an idea while out running errands and then go buy a notebook (I always carried a pen with me to jot ideas down on napkins, etc.) and then head to a coffee shop. As for my beverage of choice at moments like this, I normally imbibe basic American coffee, black, or unsweet iced tea. Even when I go to Starbuck’s (or went to Starbucks during the pre-coronavirus days), I would often order just their café Americano, black. Occasionally, I might order a vanilla latte. If I felt like living a bit of a life of luxury, I would order an Irish cream breve. All of these would usually be in the (euphemistically termed) tall or grande sizes.

I put this ambience video on to listen to while I work this afternoon. It is supposed to be the Double R diner from the 80’s TV series Twin Peaks. Looking at this, I became nostalgic and wished I could find a place like this again. This diner is straight from the 80’s and is a place I would love to sit with a notebook and spend an afternoon, and maybe even into the evening, scribbling down ideas as fast they come. Usually, when I am writing a scene, it’s like a movie is playing in my head and I am just noting down everything I see as fast as I can. I can even envision the dialogue between people and what is going on inside their heads to make them say what they say. It’s a very enjoyable process. I can become totally immersed in it for a while and therefore it is great for relieving stress, tension, anxiety, what have you. Just being in a place like this once again would be a bit of paradise for me again.

Just look at the place in detail. It has the old-style, Naugahyde bench seats. On the table closest is a slice of cherry pie, which Agent Dale Cooper (played by Kyle McLachlan) used to eat at the end of an episode. There is also an old style tape recorder with a cassette in it and an old style hotel key, which was used before key cards made their debut. In the front booth and to the reader’s right are the traditional mustard and ketchup bottles, a sugar dispenser, salt and pepper shakers, and a worn menu. In the very back under the plate glass window and to the left is an actual jukebox. The slow, soft jazz playing is perfect for a setting like this. I have been in many, many places like this across the US. In the back of the front booth and on a shelf is an ash tray with a burning cigarette in it. Although a lot of people hate tobacco smoke, I would love to smell it in restaurants and bars again.

Good times.

Hopefully, before long, this pandemic will be over and we can once again pack places such as this and not even wear a mask.


Update: Lycanthrope

werewolf

I just now reached 40, 246 words on Lycanthrope. According to my scan of publishers on Duotrope, 40,000 words is the minimal word count that almost all publishers will consider a novel.

My best estimate currently is that I will need another 20,000 words to complete Lycanthrope. I have been working on this since the end of December. I stopped work on Shadows and Stars to pursue Lycanthrope because the ideas for it were coming fast and furious. They still are. I work on this almost every night.

I have recently come up with a couple of really good plot twists that should make this interesting. These will bring a supernatural element into the story.

Once I have the first draft finished, which should not be long now, I will do some editing, but I expect to do minimal revision. Of course, that could change. I am coming up with new ideas and I like subtle plot twists. I also like to leave some subtle clues hinting at a denouement, but these could be a red herring too.

This work is being increasingly intriguing for me.

For me, I see the events unfolding in my head and I just write down a description of what I am visualizing. Sometimes the characters take control and I just watch and record.

Hasta luego. I need to sleep.


Ideas for Revamping the Website

I have been watching some YouTube videos today about how to sell books on Amazon. The speaker showed the Amazon pages of authors who sell lots of books. While he talked about keywords (which are important) I looked at the page layout, colors, and number of books listed, which were a lot for each other. Long story short, I started thinking about how I can change some things on the website to sell more books. Rethinking keywords is just a part of the overall plan.

The obvious thing hit me a few minutes ago. I should check out the websites of famous authors and learn from them instead of assorted unknown hacks on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong. I love YouTube and watch it way more than any other channel and there are a lot of pros and artists on there, but I have been paying more attention to the hacks lately.

I checked out stephenking.com, danbrown.com, jkrowling.com, and jgrisham.com. Again the obvious hit me. First, unlike my website, theirs are not weblogs. Theirs are primarily about their books. But their websites are more than simple bookstores.

Each author’s works fall into a genre, a theme, or a certain atmosphere. In effect, each author builds his/her own universe. The websites, intentionally or not, draw the reader into that universe. For example, Stephen King’s universe is one of horror while J.K. Rowling’s is one of magic and youth. Dan Brown’s universe is one of mysterious symbols. Authors exist in parallel universes.

Therefore I need to do some literary navel-gazing and decide what my universe is and draw the reader into that. Each of my works is a doorway into that universe.

Anyway, those are my revelations for the night. I must go to bed. I know this is all very obvious, but sometimes the answer is in front of you all along and you have to bang your head into it accidentally in order to realize it’s there.

More to come. I will be revamping the website soon.

Another Trip Down Memory Lane Courtesy of the Internet

Last night’s ego-surfing turned into a pilgrimage down Memory Lane. In addition to finding one of my old photos in a new webzine article and finding one of my old videos at The Bleeding Critic, I also found where I had commented on an article about a Tennessee Williams’s one-act play in which I once acted: Portrait of a Madonnna. I played the role of the porter. The article to which the link leads contains the entire text of the play.

It was 1997 and I had not been out of the Navy long. I had returned to my home town of Frankfort, KY for a while. I was an aspiring photographer then. I don’t recall at the moment how it happened but I became involved in a local theatre group as an actor and as the photographer that shot the cast photos.

For a run of about a few weeks, I played in two one-act plays by Tennessee Williams. One was Portrait of a Madonna, as mentioned above. I don’t recall the name of the other, but I played a drunk whose wife drags him to visit some friends during Mardi Gras. If I recall the name, I will update this post accordingly.

Over the last few years, I have endeavored to see as many plays as I can in order to study playwriting, staging, and the art of the theatre in general. Unfortunately, I have not gotten to see many performances in person. However, I have been watching the movie versions of plays as much as I can. I try to watch the films versions that are noted as being close to the original stage production. I now have a small collection of the works of Shakespeare on film. I watch the Richard Burton-Elizabeth Taylor version of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” occasionally. I have seen “Equus” starring Richard Burton. I have tried to watch “Waiting for Godot” a few times, but I keep falling asleep. I have the move versions of “A Streetcar Named Desire”, “Cat on A Hot Tin Roof”, and “Night of the Iguana” on DVD. I will get more plays on film, particularly of Tennessee Williams’s plays, as soon as I can.

Tennessee Williams,, 1965
Tennessee Williams,, 1965

I really enjoyed acting and wish I had stayed with it longer or gotten involved with it again at some later point. I had done a lot of public speaking while in the Navy, so I was comfortable on a stage. Memorizing the lines was a bit of a challenge, but being able to interact with the other actors and going through all the practice and blocking and deciding on costumes was really fun. Of course, I enjoyed the applause at curtain.

Acting is not all that far removed from day-to-day life. We all have to think about how we appear to other, what actions we should take in the presence of others, what we should say in front of others. It almost comes naturally in a sense. The benefit of theatre is that you get to practice your lines and prepare your wardrobe to produce the image you want to project to your audience.

If I had the chance now, I would definitely become involved in acting again.

Since 1997, I have been working on a few plays of my own, though only one or two very short ones have been finished. Currently, I have two longer plays in the works and one short one that I have submitted to a competition in New York.

The one that has been submitted is the stage adaptation of my flash fiction story ‘Murder by Plastic”, which was published on FictionontheWeb.co.uk in 2015 and which has received some good comments from readers. The contest is looking for plays of about ten minutes in length and which can be stage by 5-6 people or less with a minimal amount of props. I should hear in January whether I am a semi-finalist. there’s not a big financial award if I win, but they will produce the play.

I have an idea for a one-act play of about a half-hour or more. I not yet completed the first draft. It is called “Incommunicado”. It is a about a man who, after a DUI, has been off the bottle for a year, but now that all his court-ordered punishment and probation is over, goes to a small village in the remote mountains of southwest New Mexico, to drink and write. However, he has an internal struggle, because he has grown to like sobriety. His writing is also challenged by meeting a woman, with whom he has a fling over the weekend, despite having a girlfriend in Albuquerque. One inner battle facing him is whether he will stay with his girlfriend or his new lover.

The longest play is three acts, about 1.5 hours, and is about a man and a woman who have been cheating on their spouses for over a year just for the sex and drinking and riotous fun. I call it “Centaurs”. The man and woman have been keeping their identities and backgrounds from each other, because they don’t want any attachments. However, they begin to find themselves attracted to each other when another woman becomes involved.

I have been working on “Centaurs” for about twenty years now. I started it as a short story, but then decided that a play would be a much better fit for the story. Writing it as a play seems a lot more fun than writing it as a short story and challenges me creatively in new and exciting ways.

Anyway, that’s my take on my involvement in the theatre for the moment. Maybe I will write more at a later date. I will, of course, provide updates as my writing and (hopefully) production of these progress.

I want to hear your thoughts. Please provide comments.

Sensual vs. Sensuous

Here is a superb explanation from http://grammar.about.com/od/alightersideofwriting/a/sensualgloss.htm of the distinction between two words I still confuse (no matter how many times I watch the supermarket scene from Animal House).   Knowing the history of the two words helps.   I stumbled across this article  today while double-checking its usage for a story I am writing.

After reading this it occurred to me that a good mnemonic for the difference would be to remember that sensual and sexual both end in -ual.  As a matter of fact, the only difference in pronunciation is that one has an x (a ks sound) and the other has ns.

The adjective sensual means affecting or gratifying the physical senses, especially in a sexual way.

Sensuous means pleasing to the senses, especially those involved in aesthetic pleasure, as of art or music.

But as explained in the usage notes below, this fine distinction is often overlooked.

Examples:

  • “If one wants another only for some self-satisfaction, usually in the form of sensual pleasure, that wrong desire takes the form of lust rather than love.” (Mortimer Adler)
  •  Her first book of poems included several sensuous descriptions of flowers.

Usage Notes:

  • “The controversial 1969 bestseller The Sensuous Woman would have been more accurately titled The Sensual Woman because its explicit subject matter concerns the unabashed gratification of sexual desire.”Here’s how you can keep the two words straight. If you mean lovely, pleasurable, or experienced through the senses, use sensuous; if you mean self-gratifying or pertaining to physical desires, use sensual. Sensuous thoughts have a pleasant effect on your senses as well as your mind. Sensual thoughts are erotic, sexually arousing, maybe even lewd.”
    (Charles Harrington Elster, Verbal Advantage: Ten Easy Steps to a Powerful Vocabulary. Random House, 2009)

 

  • The Origins of Sensuous
    Sensuous is an interesting word. The OED says it was apparently invented by [John] Milton, because he wanted to avoid the sexual connotations of the word sensual (1641).

    “The OED cannot find any evidence of the use of the word by any other writer for 173 years, not until [Samuel Taylor] Coleridge:

    Thus, to express in one word what belongs to the senses, or the recipient and more passive faculty of the soul, I have reintroduced the word sensuous, used, among many others of our elder writers, by Milton. (Coleridge, “Principles of General Criticism,” in Farley’s Bristol Journal, August 1814)

    “Coleridge put the word into ordinary circulation–and almost immediately it began to pick up those old sexual connotations that Milton and Coleridge wanted to avoid.”
    (Jim Quinn, American Tongue and Cheek, Pantheon Books, 1980)

 

  •  Overlapping Meanings“The consensus of the commentators, from Vizetelly 1906 to the present, is that sensuous emphasizes aesthetic pleasure while sensual emphasizes gratification or indulgence of the physical appetites.”The distinction is true enough within one range of meanings, and it is worth remembering. The difficulty is that both words have more than one sense, and they tend often to occur in contexts where the distinction between them is not as clear cut as the commentators would like it to be.”(Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, 1994)

     

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Prevent the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Follow federal, state, and local guidelines. Use common sense when the guidelines are insufficient.

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu

LeFanu

Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu

1814-1873

Over lunch, I was reading the Wikipedia article on horror fiction and came across a reference to Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu, of whom I had never heard.   I went to the article and found out some interesting things (granted, Wikipedia is not the most respected source, but if even half of this article is accurate, Le Fanu bears some investigating by avid horror aficionados).

Le Fanu was a respected writer of ghost stories and Gothic tales in the 19th century.   I read his “The Ghost and the Bonesetter” (1838), which Wikipedia describes as “his first-published and jocular story”.   For our generation, this is more humor than horror, but Le Fanu’s talent is patently obvious from this work.  I look forward to reading more.

It fascinates me that, as well-read as I am, I have never heard of Le Fanu, but then I have only recently begun to delve into the horror genre to any great degree.   Based on the Wikipedia article, he was very well-known in his time and influenced 19th and 20th century writers such as M.R. James, Bram Stoker, and James Joyce.   His best known works are the vampire novella Carmilla and The Purcell Papers (a collection of short stories).   Apparently, he has also had something of an influence on modern cinema, with movies still being made of his work occasionally (Le Fanu’s mystery novel “Uncle Silas” was made into a movie in 1947, and then remade, starring Peter O’Toole, as The Dark Angel in 1987).

Here is a paragraph from the Wikipedia article to whet your appetite for further investigation  of his work:

“Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his mystery and horror fiction. He was a meticulous craftsman and frequently reworked plots and ideas from his earlier writing in subsequent pieces. Many of his novels, for example, are expansions and refinements of earlier short stories. He specialised in tone and effect rather than “shock horror”, and liked to leave important details unexplained and mysterious. He avoided overt supernatural effects: in most of his major works, the supernatural is strongly implied but a “natural” explanation is also possible. The demonic monkey in “Green Tea” could be a delusion of the story’s protagonist, who is the only person to see it; in “The Familiar”, Captain Barton’s death seems to be supernatural, but is not actually witnessed, and the ghostly owl may be a real bird. This technique influenced later horror artists, both in print and on film (see, for example, the film producer Val Lewton‘s principle of “indirect horror”). Though other writers have since chosen less subtle techniques, Le Fanu’s best tales, such as the vampire novella “Carmilla“, remain some of the most powerful in the genre. He had enormous influence on the 20th century’s most important ghost story writer, M. R. James, and although his work fell out of favour in the early part of the 20th century, towards the end of the century interest in his work increased and remains comparatively strong.[1]

Thoughts?  Comments?

“The Terror” from the Wen Fu

Here is an interesting section/stanza from the ancient Chinese work Wen Fu (The Art of Writing).  It is entitled “The Terror”.

I worry that my ink well will run dry, that right words cannot be found ; I want to respond to the moment’s inspiration.

I work with what is given ; that which passes cannot be detained.

Things move into shadows & they vanish ; things return in the shape of an echo.

When Spring arrives, we understand that Nature has its own reason.

Thoughts are lifted from the heart on breezes, and language finds its speaker.

Yesterday’s buds are this morning’s blossoms which we draw with a brush on silk.

Every eye knows a pattern, every ear hears a distant music.

Wen Fu was written by Lu Chi (261 AD – 300 AD), who was a scholar, a military leader, and the the Literary Secretary in the the Emperor’s court.  It is very short and may take an average reader 15-20 minutes to complete.  The hardcopy  translation I have was written by Sam Hamill and published by Breitenbush Books in 1987.   A far more poetic version can be found at http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/LuChi.htm.

I like to peruse Wen Fu occasionally, because the language is simple yet mystical while the ideas are straightforward yet metaphorical.   What fascinates me most about the work is that the principles it expresses are eternal and universal.   The underlying principles that guided Lu Chi’s art are the same ones that underlie ours nearly two thousand years later and in a society (and language!) that would have been completely alien to Lu Chi.  What’s more, Lu Chi describes the experience of writing from a very intimate standpoint to which any author who is passionate about his art could relate.

What are your thoughts?  What principles of writing are eternal and universal?  What do you see in the stanza above?

How Do You Know You’re Good Enough as a Writer?

I am up late tonight. I don’t have insomnia per se at the moment, but I am only now starting to feel sleepy–and it’s 4:00 a.m.

I am, of course, surfing YouTube. I came across this gem of UCLA professor Richard Walter talking about how does someone know that he/she is good enough to be a writer. Even though he is talking specifically about screenwriting, I can relate to a lot of what he says.

Check it out.

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Prevent the spread of Coronavirus/COVID-19 for the sake of yourself, your friends, and your family.

Update October 24, 2020: Progress on Shadows and Stars

Over the last few days I have been working on Shadows and Stars. Currently, I am editing a scene where Mikash and Daryn go to a festival of ivory in the capitol city of Janhalo. As I am not familiar with sculpting ivory, I did a little research on it yesterday. Right now, I am working on developing a better description of an alien city than the one I have currently. Therefore, I went onto YouTube and looked up “Unusual skyscrapers” to stimulate my imagination. The first video I found is really fascinating and has some humor (check out the unofficial names for some of these towers), so I thought I would post it here.

Take care. Wear your mask.