Books and other acquired objects in our lives often hold memories of places, life’s better moments, dear friends, and loved ones. I’ve found the most lasting memories are those attached to things gifted to us by others.
My library shelves overflow with books—some found, many gifted, all treasured. They are an archive for my memories of travels with friends and loved ones and adventures big and small.
But books are not alone in the memory department.
I still have and use a large coffee cup given me many years ago by dear friends, one of whom has passed. But every time I pull that cup from the cupboard, I’m reminded of the gift of friendship and the good times we shared.
I have no way of knowing if compliments or a kind word I’ve given ever made a positive impact, or if my silly humor made someone smile when they were feeling down.
But I don’t really need to know, do I? I just need to know that I tried.
It has been twelve months since I last posted. Between the stress of the deadly viral pandemic, quarantine, and the anti-democratic political chaos in this country (which I do not care to discuss further), it has truly been a year like no other I’ve experienced.
To stem the spread of the virus, stay-at-home orders plus mask mandates and social distancing requirements for anyone venturing outside their home “bubble” reduced the social side of life to virtual visits and interaction. I saw this as an opportunity to get back to work on my manuscripts and catch up on my woefully ignored reading list. That was the plan, but like many plans in life, it didn’t work out that way. Quite the contrary. But the year wasn’t a total loss for me as concerns reading and writing.
I have managed to do editing work, some small advance on my works in progress, and function as a beta reader for a local author and friend of mine.
Spring is here along with my two doses of vaccine, and my Spring door wreath is now on display, so I’m feeling a bit optimistic.
Here’s to the next twelve months being better, safer, and more productive than the previous.
Considering current events and the discussions of pandemics threatening human existence, here’s a list of five of my favorite novels with such story-lines. It’s a short list, no spoilers. For my money, they are all great reads. After all, if we are to stay home, limit our traveling, and practice ‘social distancing’ what better way than to curl up with your favorite beverage and a good book?
My all-time favorite is “Earth Abides” by George R. Stewart. Against the backdrop of crumbling civilization, the protagonist seeks other survivors after the plague has wiped out most other inhabitants. Written in 1949, this post-apocalyptic novel inspired Stephen King’s “The Stand”.
Steven King’s “The Stand” is a post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel about the release of a strain of modified influenza, a pandemic killing most of the world’s population.
Then there is Ken Follett’s epic historical novel “World Without End” set in the Middle Ages against the backdrop of the plague.
In Michael Creighton’s “Andromeda Strain” a satellite falls to earth bringing a deadly virus.
And finally, for an ‘out of this world’ read, there’s Tess Gerritsen’s “Gravity” set on the International Space Station as astronauts and NASA struggle to contain a deadly virus outbreak on-board. No such thing as ‘social distancing’ here, folks.
All are wonderful reads. Hope you can find time to enjoy them, too. If you have any recommendations of your own, please feel free to list them. Always up for a good read.
Slogging along on a manuscript or other piece of writing? Taking longer to finish than you expected? Exhausted trying to complete that description, paragraph, sentence, scene, dialogue, or other story element? Mr. Leonard just might have been on to something when it comes to writing.
Elmore Leonard (October 11th, 1925 – August 20th, 2013) was a novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter. His earliest novels were westerns but he didn’t limit his work to that genre. Among his best-known works are “Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight,” “Hombre,” “Mr. Majestyk,” “Rum Punch” (adapted as the film “Jackie Brown”), and short stories that became the films “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Tall T,” as well as the FX television series, “Justified.”
“So what is the opposite of Serendip, a southern land of spice and warmth, lush greenery and hummingbirds, seawashed, sunbasted? Think of another world in the far north, barren, icebound, cold, a world of flint and stone. Call it Zembla. Ergo: zemblanity, the opposite of serendipity, the faculty of making unhappy, unlucky and expected discoveries by design. Serendipity and zemblanity: the twin poles of the axis around which we revolve…
Zemblanity hasn’t achieved mainstream status, though Mr Justice Michael Peart used it in a legal judgment in Ireland in 2012 and it has been borrowed as the title of a bit of madcap physical theatre, which was performed, for example, at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.”
For authors seeking publishers and marketing help you should know it’s a dangerous world out there full of pitfalls, and offers of help aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact, those offers may be scams.
I’ve been expending a lot of words and time lately warning about the latest scam phenomenon to hit the writing world: fake publishing and marketing companies that, through outrageous prices and worthless services, extract enormous amounts of money from unwary writers.
Based in the Philippines (despite their apparent US addresses, phone numbers, and telemarketer names) and focusing primarily on small press and self-published authors (particularly authors who’ve published with one of the Author Solutions imprints), these companies recruit writers with relentless–and highly deceptive–phone and email solicitations. Some do provide the services authors pay for, albeit at seriously inflated prices and often of poor quality. Others just take the money and run. I’m hearing from a growing number of writers who’ve paid five figures in fees to one–or, in some cases, more than one–of these scams, with next to nothing to show for it.
Given how fast the scams are proliferating (I learn about a new one every few weeks), I thought it would be helpful to gather all the information I’ve put together about them in one place.
This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case - you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 - 2021