blogging, Flash Fiction, humor, Uncategorized, Writers Co-op

Master Beadle

(Just for fun Flash Fiction, 384 words)

+++“There be some what say Master Beadle here is naught in his right mind.” Old Geeze glared defiantly at the crowd gathered in the town Bar & Grill & Bar.
+++“Bat-shit crazy, you mean.” Fat Stockton, the town butcher, was not to be intimidated by man nor beagle. “That dog ate just enough of my cow to not kill it!”
+++“Poor thing.” Mavis Beth shook her head. “I seen her. Reminded me o’the time those Aliens camped outside a’town and traded in their dung for cow parts.”
+++Several in the crowd nodded. “I still got some of that,” said one. “It’s sealed it in a Mason Jar ’cause o’the smell.”
+++“Sold mine on eBay,” another said.
+++“Well, it weren’t Master Beadle here what ate on your cow, Fat. Ask him.”
+++“What do you mean?”
+++“I mean don’t take my word for it. Ask him for yerself!”
+++Fat snorted. “He talks?”
+++“Of course he talks. And he’s for sale, too. Twenty dollars.”
+++“That true?” Mavis asked.
+++“Yup,” said the dog. “It’s true. Unfortunately. Old Geeze here is tired of me always prattling on about things he doesn’t know and places he’s never going to see.”
+++There followed a hubbub of astonishment at the unbelievable that eventually faded into awe. Master Beadle looked every man and woman, one by one, in the eye before continuing.
+++“I ran with Alien traders for years. We traveled the galaxy, buying and selling all manner of goods. We carried crap to third-world worlds, ran guns to the Farside Raiders, even sold Mind Flowers to the ladies on Heavenly.” He paused, a dreamy look coming into his eyes as his head lifted a little. “Ahh, the bitches I have known, the adventures! The smells of alien markets! All that food… did you know,” he looked directly at the butcher, “That if well fed, I can occasionally glimpse the future?”
+++“No,” said Fat Stockton, slipping a twenty-dollar bill to Old Geeze with one hand and with the other taking the dog by its collar. “You’ll have to tell me all about that.” He led Master Beadle to the door, paused and turned. “Geeze? This dog is amazing! Why did you sell it for only $20?”
+++Old Geeze pocketed the money. “’Cause. That damned dog’s a liar! He never did any o’that shit.”

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blogging, book promotion, Uncategorized

Blogging Your Book

To blog your book without being too boringly obvious or repetitive, consider blogging about the subject matter of your book. People who share an interest in what your book is about could become your readers.

For example:
If you write mysteries, blog the latest crime-fighting psychology or tech or techniques. Romance writers can blog on sex, relationships or famous real-life romances. Blog fantasies if you write them, or blog the science behind your fiction if you write Sci-Fi.

So, if you are a writer who blogs, the question could be…
What can you blog about that shares your interests with prospective readers?

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On websites and social media.

I believe we need to have a strong on-line presence in the form of, not a general blog, but a site dedicated to a product. But here are comments from some who disagree with me:

This question was posed on Scribophile:  

At what point does engaging in yet another platform actually sell any books?

Scribophile > “Depends what you use the platform for. DeviantArt has a lot of webcomic artists on there, and they gain a huge number of fans by posting serious artwork and drawings and funny mini-comics and the like for a few years first. They build up interest to the work before the work ever gets posted, so there’s already an audience waiting to suck up the actual story.”

(This is what I had in mind for my Wix site. But my conception got way too complicated, it got away from me. I am going to use a template-based WordPress site as my intro site, and continue to work on the Wix one.)

Scribophile > “I don’t think that your social media presence is really going to result in selling more books. I think it improves your chances for getting represented or published. I use Instagram to promote my art and writing. I participate in month-long writing and drawing challenges.

“Engaging on Facebook and Twitter drives some blog traffic for me. I have a books page on my blog, so people who have come to look at my article/interview or whatever link they clicked on can then see what I write. But it’s more a case of raising my profile out of obscurity than selling loads of books.

“Imagine selling your book is like having a storefront. You can wait for people to walk by, walk in and buy something. It happens. But what if you also participated in community events, fairs, and neighborhood parties? That’s what social media is. A means to get even a little bit more attention in an overcrowded marketplace.

“The key is to find the outlet where your readers/buyers are most likely to be hanging out and then give them a good reason to go to your store.”

Scribophile > Someone here somewhere agrees with me. He/she is strongly opposed to a marketing site being primarily a personal blog, but I can’t find that comment at the moment.

Yes, you can talk about a range of topics, but let them relate to your story. (Anyone who reads my footnotes in Sly will see that I am able to relate almost anything to my story.)

______________________________________________

So, there are two schools of thought here.

One > Display your general style and sensibility, seduce readers into trying your book.

Two > Subtlety be damned, the focus should be on the book, not your rambling thoughts.

There’s a third approach. One guy wants you to be his writing coach: “Based on my experience as a long time reader, never. It’s like some myth. I go to author’s blogs for writing tips, not to buy their books.”

Here’s my opinion:

> Engage on a variety of social sites, if you have the energy, to (try to) get attention.

> Have a website that features your product(s). Chat also, but don’t have that be the focus of your message. Soft sell by the grace of prose pulled from your novel(s). Be spontaneous in introductions/ sidebars/wrap-up comments.

> Here’s the advantage to this: Updates are easy. Change a paragraph, add a graphic. No pressure to freshen your page top to bottom. Your book is your book is your book.

The bad thing about that is, if a reader looks at your presentation and dismisses it, he will not return to find a second book, or a third. So be entertaining as hell in your supplemental material. Be surprising, be insightful, be outrageous. Give a browser reason to think you might eventually have something for him.

 

 

 

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WRITERS DESIDERATA

Writing while life itself is difficult can require recognizing the bigger picture. Reading Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata (Latin: “desired things”) focuses me. I adopted it for the writing life and thought I’d share. So, with apologies and homage to Max Ehrmann…

+++WRITE PLACIDLY despite the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in escape. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
+++Write your own truth quietly and clearly; but listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.
+++Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare your writing with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser writers than yourself.
+++Enjoy your published works as well as your WIPs. Keep interested in your writing career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
+++Exercise caution in marketing your books, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
+++Be yourself. Especially do not feign knowledge. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.
+++Let the counsel of years inform your writing, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
+++Nurture creativity to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
+++Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.
+++And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with your Muse, whatever you conceive Her to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Write to be happy.

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Our Second Themed-Stories Showcase

Sorry for the delay, folks, but the wait has been worth it.  I haven’t added any titles, so only Carl’s has one. (I couldn’t think of one.)  The theme this month was a single word: draw. In the five stories, authors used four different meanings of the word as their primary definition. What a versatile little word!

MASKING FOR TROUBLE 4.png

Quickdraw McGraw registers a complaint.

Anyway, thanks to all. I hope I didn’t miss any (Kris?).  Enjoy!

(Next month, Mimi chooses the theme and the word count. Watch for it in the comments below.)

 

 

 

___________________________

Author:  Mimi Speike

 

I would read for you, said Dee. I must know who you are, what you’re about.

Ask anything, cried Sly, eager to oblige. (One does not refuse an opportunity to apprentice to the great John Dee.)

I consult the Tarot, please. The cards don’t lie.

Your implication, I do?

Don’t get your back up over nothing. Madame Tarocchini reveals things we may not be aware of.

Such as?

Dee fanned a deck face down on his desk. Let’s see. Draw five.

Draw.jpg

Sly took one, examined it, and shied it at his mentor. Outrageous! I had assumed a brilliant man, which you most certainly are, must reject this idiocy.

Dee shrugged. Nonsense, certainly. But, a popular depiction. One finds this nastiness everywhere, it’s impossible to avoid. Try to take it in stride.

Easy for you to say. You’re not a cat.

That particular card, Dee mused, his first pick? Luck of the draw? Or drawn to it? Gives one pause, it does indeed.

 

__________________________

Author:  Curtis Bausse

The man and the boy walked along the road, waiting for the lights of a vehicle, any vehicle, to pierce the black. None did. They kept walking, the man answering the boy’s questions as best he could. The boy was at that age, wondering about starlight and atoms and trees falling in forests with no one to hear them.
‘There’s a book up there.’ The man pointed to the ragged sky. ‘Maybe in orbit, maybe just drifting past. Full of words we can’t understand. And pictures. Drawings. Beautiful, they are. There’s one of a bird with feathers like flames and eyes bright as diamonds.’ The man paused. ‘And an ice cream van. Just one flavour. Chocolate. But the best chocolate ice cream in the universe.’
The boy craned his neck, looking up. ‘Ah, bullshit! I don’t believe you.’
‘OK, I made the ice cream up.’
‘But the rest is real?’
‘Sure.’ The man glanced over his shoulder at the darkness behind and quickened his pace. ‘Come on. Better hurry.’

 

__________________________

Author:  Perry Palin

 

Teacher said draw a picture of your favorite animal. The children drew dogs and cats, and one drew a pet snake. The little girl didn’t know what to draw. She looked at another girl’s picture of a cat, and she drew a cat.

Teacher said draw a picture of your house. The children drew houses with peaked roofs and flat roofs, one story or two stories tall. There were curtains or flowers in the windows, and some drew a sun in the sky. The little girl thought about her teacher’s words. She drew a gray apartment building with a parking lot, and the two cars that never move in the parking lot.

Teacher said draw a picture of your last vacation. The children drew scenes with children at lakes or in the mountains or at Disney parks. The little girl didn’t know what to do. She drew a picture of a table in a park. There was no one sitting at the table.

Teacher said the holidays are coming, draw what you would like most as a gift. The children drew bikes and pets and bright big toys. The little girl drew a mother and a father holding hands.

 

__________________________

Author:  Atthys Gage

 

Husk cracked, clinging where she hadn’t chewed it away. It fell in flakes when she extended a hinged foreleg. She looked up, gathering the dank air in the membranes of her face, and licked. And gulped. Air had never meant much to her before; now she couldn’t get enough.

Breathing coaxed other urges. Jointed plates groaned, drawing ichor into untested sinews. Forelegs? Hind legs?—these made a sort of sense—but what were these strange nubs, these stumps of flesh set high up on her back? Stretching, pain warned, but did not deter. Some urge, deeper than pain, spoke inside her. It would not be denied.

She flexed until the shriveled nubs swelled, unfolding in jointed segments that stiffened into crisp panes. Their slow beat flicked shadow across her crystal face. They were bigger than she was.

With hardly a flap, she was airborne, rising into the stale dusk. She chose a direction without benefit of sight, sound, smell. A gradient lay across the sky, a chemical net spreading in every direction. The draw was irresistible. She set a course for the center, and it pulled on her like a lodestone, onward, ever closer, to where death hung the thickest.

–Atthys

 

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Monday, Monday.

It’s Monday, and nothing’s up. Problem solv-ed!

Here’s chapter one of The Rogue Decamps. 

ONE: A FINE KETTLE OF FISH.

The stair was steep, without a comfortable footing for a man with long dogs. There had once been a wooden railing hooked into the wall but, this egress largely forgotten, unmaintained, it had years back fallen away. It was lit by three slits of grille from above, but the lowered sun failed to illuminate the stairwell to any useful degree. Sly, with his better vision, had begged to precede, to coach the escape – broken step here, sir – but the old man had charged ahead.

Sly had followed his embattled superior down to a door providing easy access to serene formal gardens. They’d spent the best part of the afternoon in a close chamber with a panel of officials, until the embattled recipient of earnest counsels and irritated exhortations had leapt up exclaiming Umeak! Isilik oiloak pixa egin arte! (Children! Be quiet until the chickens pee!)1 He’d turned and bolted without any hint of intention to his stunned assistant. Sly had rushed after him, trailing the fugitive down a long corridor to a cul-de-sac harboring a hidden door. Before a search party reached them the two had vanished, leaving pursuers scratching their heads.

They’d negotiated the descent quietly, and slipped out into a jewel-like landscape, bursts of early blooms everywhere. The recently woken garden was normally a source of delight for both of them but they were too agitated to pay it heed. Sly knew well – too well – what to expect. Lately, any unpleasantness kicked up the same well-litigated dispute.

Batten the hatches, boy, he told himself. You’re in for a real blow this time. Keep your trap shut. Smile. Nod. Get through it.

“Lord On High,”2 he groaned. “Enough upset for one day. No more, please.” He tried a diversionary tactic, a string of acidic quips assessing the intellects of those they’d been sparring with. In response, he got a variety of mirthless snorts.

In his best nothing-fazes-me voice he exclaimed, “Sir! This is a bad business. We must ponder a response, certainly, but I’m not up to it just now. Let’s shrug off this sour mood and enjoy what’s left of a beautiful day. We’ll go at it tomorrow. What do you say?”

The old man tramped sullenly along the brickwork path. Behind a dense hedge the graybeard bent low, one hand cupped on one knee to steady himself nose to nose with his diminutive associate, the other clutching his cloak tight at his throat. His thin lips were contorted in a deep frown. “Look here,” he spat. “You would abandon me to those fat-heads? I refuse to believe it.”

Poorly braced, the hunched form tettered, but his underling did not back off. Although small of stature, nowhere near the other’s heft, he disdained to act on a very reasonable anticipation of personal injury. He was focused on making his point.

“Let me slip away,” he hissed. “It’s all my fault. Those fools are in revolt against me, not you. The most of them are good men. I am willing to assign them the least foul of motives; they are fearful. You and I have been too flagrant in our unnatural association. The sudden accord of ones normally at each others’ throats is the closest they dare come to a bald rebuke. Once I’m out of the picture they’ll revert to their fractious ways, for this proposal is, unquestionably, indecent.”

“Don’t leave me!” begged the anguished ancient. He lurched toward a stone bench, collapsed onto it, and buried his face in his hands. “Holy Mother,” he moaned, “steel my spine, as you did that of my distant relation, the Friar of Carcassonne.”3

Sly dipped his head in a halfhearted show of respect. “A fine kettle of fish,” he muttered. “The spark,” he growled, “emboldened by some exchange with your silly son, feels he has an ally there.”

“Impossible! Bittor despises him.”

“Be that as it may, the rascal sees his star rising. This stunt is a declaration of newfound sway. Why else would he tip his hand? Stealth would seem to be essential.

“Now, part of me says he was trying to get your goat. He loves to bait you, we know that. Take his threat seriously and he’ll be delighted. Confound him. Laugh it off. Look the other way.“

Part of you says! What does the rest of you say?”

“Please, don’t blow your top over an observation. It’s a damn ingenious idea. There’s big money to be made, if he can pull it off. We would do well to assume the worst. I’ll poke around, see what I can dig up.”

“I must talk to Bittor about it.”

“Do no such thing. It was a jest, that’s your stance. You have better things to worry about. Haven’t you longed to be rid of M. d’Ollot for years? Give the idiot his free rein. I’ll keep an eye on him and intervene as necessary. I have my own nasty ways and you know it.”

“Do I not!” moaned the grizzard.4

“I can’t predict the exact nature of my disruption but whatever happens, you need not fear retaliation, neither from rat-face nor from your lady-fair. No blame will be laid at your door. I’ll see to that.”

“No blame? What do I say to Saint Peter, standing sentry on the door to Joy Eternal, when the inevitable hour overtakes me?”

“Let’s not dig into that bucket of worms, please. I’ve had my fill of nonsense for one day.”

“Your fill? Of nonsense? That’s rich! You, with your ideas! That I always listen to respectfully, do you dare deny it?”

Sly did dare deny it, but he thought best to keep mum.

“By the way, thanks so much for your intervention earlier! What would I have done without it?”

Sly had sat side-by-side with Jakome, fixing each speaker in turn with a single wide accusatory eye. That and a sneering twist to the corner of his mouth had unsettled them quite spectacularly. His friend had not understood the reason for the frozen faces for a good while. He’d thought it due to a masterful counterpoint, and had congratulated himself on his lithe rebuttal.

“Belief shared by millions, nonsense? Simon Peter, nonsense?” The old man was turned red in the face. “I’ll tell you what the Cephas will say!” he screamed. “He’s not called Rock for nothing. Play dumb, you say, while d’Ollot is merry inciting a crime beyond contemplation. Peter will condemn me on the spot. You saw to your own interests? You looked the other way while faith was mocked? Worse, you failed to hinder the corruption of the innocents? Begone, scoundrel. No, my oh-so-clever friend. No! I will not tolerate the deviltry. Never!”

The wailed remonstrance brought attendants running. Sly lay low in a swath of greenery as his companion raged and shook a fist at the cloud-strewn expanse of blue, the perhaps observant, possibly occasionally responsive celestial space widely rumored to be the safe harbor, after the storm-tossed sea of life, commonly known as heaven. 5

_____________________________________________________________________

Attendants! Is the wobble an inmate of an asylum? You will think so when I tell you that he’s been talking to a cat. But Jakome is no ordinary sad-sack. He’s a king, I’m afraid, a not terribly effective one. He’s a gentle soul. He hasn’t a ruthless bone in his body. That’s not good when you’re king, not good at all.

Jak was not the monarch he’d been, and what he’d been had never been impressive. Always timid, he had become alarmingly withdrawn. His new habit was to brush long bangs into his eyes, using the heavy crown to hold the fringe in place, to conceal the panic that pinched his brow whenever he was forced to speak officially.6

The man feared to give his opinion on any matter of importance until the cat hopped onto his lap, whereupon the two would seem to confer. His adherents held that a beleaguered old wreck took comfort from the presence of a beloved pet and played at confiding in it. Others insisted it was a way to humiliate favor-seekers and annoy adversaries. A few attempted to call it circumspection. His enemies used the term dotty freely, but privately, among themselves.

If the conduct were a strategy, it demonstrated no unifying principle. It could not realistically be branded judicious temporizing, nor cunning dissimulation, nor, as much as one wished to believe it, an unremarkable royal fatuity. (Royal fatuity, in those days, encompassed some outrageous behavior.)

His advisors concurred that he was unfit to rule, but they propped him on the throne. The son would, by all indications, be far harder to manage.

Chapter Notes

  1. A Basque proverb, meaning shut up, and stay shut up. Chickens, birds in general, do not pee and poop separately. They plop, as we can readily see on our windshields.
  2. A figure of speech. Do not take it as a statement of belief.
  3. Bernard Délicieux, aka the Friar of Carcassonne, battled the corruption of the twelfth century church, in a region not far from my imaginary Haute-Navarre.
  4. He’s a grizzled old man with a long, scrawny neck, a bit buzzard-like. He’s a grizzard, for my money.
  5. Sly’s view, and a source of considerable contention between the two. He is a staunch humanist, in other words, an atheist. An adorable atheist, I promise.
  6. I have extracted phrases from here and there for decades, adding them to my word file. I never jotted attributions. (I never thought my story publishable.) I am cobbling credits as best I can. Using the heavy crown is one of my snatches, I couldn’t tell you where it’s from if my life depended on it.
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Rejected! – Carl E. Reed

 

Rejections. The bane of every working—or would-be working—writer. One hunkers down in front of the keyboard (or pad of paper, typewriter, tape recorder) and . . . writes . . . whatever process that active verb sums up for you. And when finished revising (You do revise, don’t you? Surely you’re not one of those rank amateurs who inflicts first drafts upon their readers? “The first draft of anything is shit.”—Ernest Hemingway. “The first draft reveals the art; revision reveals the artist.”—Michael Lee) one sends the resultant manuscript out into the world to an editor (assuming one wishes to be published, that is; not self-published) and breathlessly awaits Caesar’s verdict: thumbs-up or thumbs-down. And when that all-but-guaranteed rejection comes bouncing back . . .

There are countless articles out there that counsel the writer how to react soberly and professionally to rejection. This is not one of those articles. No indeed! Today, friends and neighbors, fellow long-suffering Knights of the Quill, midnight scritch-scribblers, far-seeing farcical fantasists and quotidian-focused literary fictioneers alike, we are going to allow ourselves the inestimable sublime pleasure of hooting and howling at a select group of cement-headed cretins. I mean, of course, the critical mediocrities who rejected first-rank artists and their attendant masterworks with such clueless, querulous verbal spasmings [sic] as:

    • Peter J. Bentley of Bentley & Son Publishing House: First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale? While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?”
    • Moberly Luger of Peacock & Peacock Publishing: “If I may be frank — you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive. You really are a man’s man, aren’t you? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had penned this entire story locked up at the club, ink in one hand, brandy in the other. Your bombastic, dipsomaniac, where-to-now characters had me reaching for my own glass of brandy.”
    • Name Omitted: “An endless nightmare. I think the verdict would be ‘Oh don’t read that horrid book.”
    • Name Omitted: “I haven’t the foggiest idea what the man is trying to say. Apparently the author intends it to be funny.”
    • Name Omitted: “I rack my brains why a chap should need thirty pages to describe how he turns over in bed before going to sleep.”
    • Name Omitted: “…overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian … the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream … I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years.”

    • Name Omitted: “. . . you just don’t know how to use the English language.”

    • Name Omitted: “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”

    • Name Omitted: “We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell.”

      answers to the above: http://mentalfloss.com/article/91169/16-famous-authors-and-their-rejections

      …………………………………

I’ll close with one of my all-time personal favorites:

Name Omitted: “The author of this book is beyond psychiatric help.”

(speaking of Crash, by J. G. Ballard)

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