Category Archives: Reblogs

Ambrose Bierce: author mysteriously vanished at 71

How marvelous that Carol Kean brought all this information together. Ambrose Bierce was a truly innovative writer of fiction — not to mention the author of The Devil’s Dictionary! And here it is.

carolkean

Lindy Moon’s novel Hyperlink from Hell set me on a mission to learn more about the author who at age 71 marched off to war (again!)…

Image  
(1842-c.1914)]  June 24: Happy Birthday, Ambrose Bierce!

…. in part, to get new material to write about, but he didn’t live to tell his new tales. The best tale may have been the story of how he died, but no one has ever told it. After all these years, no one ever will.

I remember Bierce for his chilling, horrifying tale The Boarded Window (1891), a slightly less disturbing story than all the true tales of women dug up form their graves with broken fingernails and blood attesting to the fact that the woman who appeared to be dead was in fact buried alive. A statue in a cemetery in Virginia commemorates one of these unfortunate women, Ocativa Hatcher: http://www.prairieghosts.com/octavia.html but I cannot bear to think of such things, so let us…

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The Passive Voice, Stephen King and a Cat called Fang

Time for a little passive posting — er, reblogging — courtesy of the hilarious (and informative) author Chris J. Randolph, who has this to say for (and about) himself:

Once upon a time, Chris J. Randolph was a pimply faced kid in a black jacket, living in fear of the passive voice and its festering evil. Now he’s a pimply faced adult who bitterly wishes he’d never called the exterminator.

He’s a high school graduate who’s read a few books on grammar and linguistics, follows several celebrity linguists online, and has self-published a handful of books about living technology, hulking barbarians, and wizards in space (all separately, of course).

Ready, set, reblog:

cue dramatic music

The passive voice… Among writers, it’s public enemy number one. This heartless killer is responsible for a string of grisly slayings that stretch across history, beginning all the way back in ancient Sumer and continuing on to the present day. It’s already in your home, crawling on your ceiling, and you could be its next victim.

No one is truly safe while the passive voice remains a fugitive from justice, and that’s why I’m writing this — to expose its darkest, most depraved secrets, and to ask for your assistance in stopping the monster once and for all.

You’ve read that article before, haven’t you? There are thousands of the sort floating around, and they’re completely impossible to avoid. I know… I’ve tried. They’re plastered across magazine covers and they haunt every writing blog’s sidebar, with eye-catching titles like How the Passive Voice is Ruining Your Story, or Six Ways to Find and Eliminate the Passive Voice… Local Water Supply Contaminated by Virulent Passive Voice… National Guard Clashes With Passive Voice in the Streets.

They all make the same claims; that it’s weak, evasive, passionless, bloodless, and annoying. Most throw in a few samples so you can see the beast’s horrific nature, then they wow you with an exhibition of the active voice’s immense muscle… and that’s pretty much it. They give you a pat on the back and send you off to slay the dragon.

This isn’t one of those articles… it’s a response to them. If you’d like to learn the whole story, this is the place to be.

Well, actually, THIS is the place to be to read the whole article — which is the most thorough analysis of the passive voice I’ve read, PLUS it’s amusing, PLUS it makes great use of both Stephen King and a black cat called Fang.

(This is not a picture of Fang. This is Hocus Poke-us, on her “Cushun of Shame”. Kinda makes yer eyes water, don’t she?)

black cat with white eyes

 

Prose and Cons

Indie Author Appreciation Day again, already? Yup.

Look what I found! (That should probably be “who”, but who cares?) It’s:
The Improbable Author: Thomas A. Mays.

The Improbable Author

Whew!  Sorry for the delay in posting my RavenCon report here, but I was so blasted with ideas and advice, I had to get some of it out as actual writing before it vanished like the play-by-play of a dream.  Now, however, with a thoroughly re-written and re-submitted short story complete, and plans upon plans for more SciFi-ish goodness to come, I can now relax and tell you about my first science fiction convention.

Two things stand out.

First, these are awesome people and I’ve been missing out.  It is FANTASTIC that the nerds and geeks among us have the opportunities to gather together to achieve a critical mass (not a fat pun) and then explode outward into a multifaceted mushroom cloud of fandom without reservations.

Second, I’m afraid I’m not awesome enough of a fan to cast aside all inhibitions and revel in it to the n-th degree.  In…

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10 Ways to Navigate Plot Holes, Dead Ends, Blockades, and Other Hazards on the Roadway to Writing Success

I just had a brilliant idea. While I am busy busy busy editing all the stories for the charity anTROLLogy, why not share the mighty blog words of the stories’ authors? Today, behold this reblog from author Christina L. Rozelle. Behold it well!

Signs

by Christina L. Rozelle

For the past few days, I’ve been navigating the rough roads of a writer trying to meet a deadline-destination with a yet-to-be-completed novel. It was complete, but then I got it back from a few fabulous beta-readers and with their help, I was able to see where I needed to add flesh to bone in a lot of places. This included a new ending, which is where I’m at now. So far, I’ve added 25K words to the story and I forsee it topping out at 100K, which means I have a mere 15K  words to bring it all together.

So, I’m traveling along this awesomely smooth road where the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and things are falling into place, when my engine screeches to a halt and the rest of the cars slam into my backside. I’m sure you know this dreadful moment. When these things crop up, we are never really prepared for them. Something doesn’t fit. F***, we might say. We may nosedive into depression because now we realize this fabulous ending we’ve been sailing towards, doesn’t pan out. I was totally bummed for two days because I needed to make A,B, and C at the beginning connect with X, Y, and Z at the end, but couldn’t make it work. The pressure to finish was on and there I was, twiddling my effing thumbs.

I decided now would be a good time to take a step away, meditate and drink some herbal tea, and scribe to you 10 of my discoveries:

 

1. If you are bored, chances are, the readers will also be bored. Don’t be afraid to cut the bore. 

I wrote for three days and was bored to tears with what was going on in the plot. The action and tension was not where it needed to be to keep me focused. Big red flag there. So, what I did was scribble out some ideas for an action-packed, tension building, and fulfilling ending. I asked myself some questions: What would that look like? Where’s “the twist” going to come in? Because I love those moments as a reader myself where something happens that blows my mind, and I for one, want that in my own writing. So, how can I tailor in a twist? I may have to go back and add some things in the beginning, foreshadowing and whatnot, but it will be so worth it. So, once I decided where I wanted to go, I cut back the bore (5K words of it), put it in my “take-outs” doc in case I want to use chunks of dialogue or description for later, and I started from that point with my note-pad in front of me.

2. Sometimes, thumb-twiddling is necessary.

The same goes for staring off into space for hours at a time and cleaning out that drawer that hasn’t been cleaned out in two years. Everyone should have a junk drawer for this purpose. Sometimes, mindless tasks–or no tasks at all–allow the blockage to clear. If you have a tendency to over-think things, you may do better with busy-work. I usually get a good mix of the two. When the wheels begin to smoke upstairs, I know it’s a good time to tackle those things I’ve been procrastinating.


3. Write by hand.

Get away from all electronic devices and conjure the spirits of the ancient art of pen and paper. Things sometimes have a way of working themselves out when we switch it up like this. Just seeing it from a different angle can shed some new light.

4. Draw a map. 

Sometimes, drawing a map of your fictional world may help you to see things from a different angle as well. Plus, it’s fun.

5. Run . . . for your story, not away from it.

Physical exercise can truly help eliminate the mental blockage that can sometimes be caused by self-doubt. After a good work-out, we feel better about life and ourselves, and may in fact feel better about the story as well.

6. Give your deadline the middle-finger and go for a drive.
I’m not saying abandon your deadline entirely. Sure, you should aim in the direction of the deadline, but if you want your story to be the best it can be, the fact is, sometimes, your story won’t be ready. Like a little furry, mysterious creature, preparing to hatch from the egg, it may need another week or two to develop. It may need longer. It takes what it takes. Sometimes, going for a nice long drive can release some pressure, getting physically far from the laptop and writing space. From there, we can “take a step back” and see better the full picture. We can just let go and stop trying to force it when it isn’t quite ready to hatch.

(Read the rest at Christina’s blog. You know you want to!)

Let Ruth Harris Slay Your Writing Dragons

Face_in_the_Pool-Knight_Fighting_DragonThe following is reblogged from Anne R. Allen’s Blog. Go there. Read the Whole thing. Enjoy. Then get back to writing.

Still here? Not quite ready to commit to the click-through? Then here’s the dragon teaser:

6 Writing Dragons: How To Slay Them…and Realize Your Writing Dreams in 2014

by Ruth Harris

Why Tough (Self-) Love (and Some Dragon-Slaying) Will Get You Where You Want To Be Next Year

The reasons (excuses?) for not writing/not getting your book finished often come down to six usual suspects:
1) The Procrastination Dragon

As if you don’t know what I’m talking about. 😉 But, just in case you only recently landed on Planet Earth, here’s a short list:

  • You’re tweeting instead of writing.
  • You’re surfing the web instead of writing.
  • You’re making coffee instead of writing.
  • You’re answering emails instead of writing.
  • You’re cleaning the bathroom instead of writing.
  • You’re organizing your spices instead of writing.

Bottom line: You’re doing anything and everything you can think of except write.

2) The Interruption Dragon

  • The phone.
  • The kids.
  • The dog.
  • The cat.
  • Your husband/wife/significant other.
  • The Amazon drone delivering 3 pairs of gym socks you ordered half an hour ago.
  • You lose your train of thought. If you were in the zone, you’re now out of the zone. If you weren’t in the zone, you’re now out in Siberia.
How can you be expected to write if you’re being interrupted all the time?

3) The What-Happens-Next? Dragon
Your MC is on the top branch of a burning tree and the bad guys are down below. With guns, knives, IEDs, RPGs, snarling tigers. machetes and blowtorches.

  • So now what happens?
  • What does the MC do?
  • What do the bad guys do?
  • What does his/her husband/wife, cubicle mate, best friend, bridge partner, girl friend/boy friend, Pilates teacher, dog walker, nutty neighbor, favorite TV comedian or movie star do?
  • Who says what? And to whom?
You mean you don’t know? Don’t even have a clue?
4) The Fear and Loathing Dragon
  • You forgot why you’re writing the damn book and you hate every word anyway because you’re a no-talent nobody.
  • You can’t figure out whether it’s a comedy, a thriller, urban fantasy, horror or romance.
  • You can’t remember why you started the stupid thing in the first place.
  • You have no idea what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and how you got from there to here.

Excessive, much?

Not really.

***
For the rest of the dragon line-up and how to vanquish the beasts, read the post here. And have a happy, healthy, kick-ass-writing New Year!

(Illustration from Wikimedia Commons: Frontispiece to chapter 12 of 1905 edition of J. Allen St. John‘s The Face in the Pool, published 1905.)

Fantasy Evildoers are All Gay (says no study whatsoever)

Tis still the season to blog under the influence. So, Ho Ho Ho. There’s a study to explain why we writers should all go out and play more. It’s all about Vitamin D and hobbits and fantasy bad guys. My conclusion? (Remember, I am blogging under the influence. Don’t do this at home):

Fantasy Evildoers are All Gay (says no study whatsoever). 

No, really. No study whatsoever has ever found that to be the case. So it MUST be true.

The only thing better about this (following) study would have been if the U.S. government had paid for it, and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin had had a cow over it. And then Sarah Palin shot the cow. And then she and Michele ate it. And then Peta and Greenpeace got involved, somehow, perhaps meeting at (or on) a holiday ice-breaker, with Pussy Riot as the entertainment. And then Vladimir Putin came riding in, shirtless, on a reindeer…

Cuz, you know, Vitamin D cures gay people. Especially hobbits.

I have reprinted just the abstract of the study. You know, the study that doesn’t say Vitamin D cures gay hobbits. Cuz, you know, lawsuits.

Abstract for:

The hobbit — an unexpected deficiency

by

Joseph A Hopkinson and Nicholas S Hopkinson

Objective: Vitamin D has been proposed to have beneficial effects in a wide range of contexts. We investigate the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency, caused by both aversion to sunlight and unwholesome diet, could also be a significant contributor to the triumph of good over evil in fantasy literature.

Design: Data on the dietary habits, moral attributes and martial prowess of various inhabitants of Middle Earth were systematically extracted from J R R Tolkien’s novel The hobbit.

Main outcome measures: Goodness and victoriousness of characters were scored with binary scales, and dietary intake and habitual sun exposure were used to calculate a vitamin D score (range, 0–4). Results: The vitamin D score was significantly higher among the good and victorious characters (mean, 3.4; SD, 0.5) than the evil and defeated ones (mean, 0.2; SD, 0.4; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: Further work is needed to see if these pilot results can be extrapolated to other fantastic situations and whether randomised intervention trials need to be imagined.

Read the rest of the post here! It’s fascinating. And there are hobbits!

(Why are you still here? I said read it! It’s not like you have anything else to do today.)

Merry Christmas!

 

HHH – Sherlock’s Evil Namesake

Hope you read the whole post, because it’s fascinating. And here’s a book about someone who started out along a similar path — body snatching — but ended up working his whole life for the greater good.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17618612-an-infidel-body-snatcher-and-the-fruits-of-his-philosophy

historywithatwist

In the lexicon of crime writing the name ‘Holmes’ conjures up deerstalker hats, pipe tobacco and some quite terrible violin playing. We envisage a man of startling intelligence, at the peak of his powers, doing battle with the forces of evil.

But there was another Holmes… one who was equally immersed in the criminal world, except his passion was for committing crimes not solving them. His name was Henry, not Sherlock – Henry Howard Holmes: at best a bigamist and fraudster, at worst possibly one of the world’s most prolific and devilish serial killers.

Dr. Henry Howard Holmes… the name has certain grandeur. It may not be to everyone’s taste but it was a lot better than Herman Webster Mudgett, this criminal’s true identity.

Mudgett was born in Gilmanton, New Hampshire on May 16, 1861. He would die by the hangman’s rope in Philadelphia on May 7, 1896, a…

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Exclusive: Questions and Answers with John L. Monk

Giving thanks to the universe for all my writer friends. Here’s one with:
Humility. Hilarity. Humongous Head. Full of tiny beavers.

John L. Monk

j_l_m_bio_photo_tinyPeople bug me all the time for advice, information, or just to see what I’m up to. I don’t normally give interviews (for security reasons), and so the world has been robbed of a lot of my insight. When I wrote Kick, for the first time ever my ideas were made available to the masses. But could I have done more?

Recently I agreed to do an interview, but stipulated that it only be published here, on my blog, and that the interviewer receive zero monetary benefit or notoriety. I didn’t want them tainting the purity of the interview process. To their credit, they agreed.

Questions:
Q: John L. Monk, where do you get your ideas?
JLM: sometimes they come to me in dreams. Sometimes I get my ideas from the many facets of a single snowflake, descending to the Earth like a crystallized platter, as if thrown from…

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The truth about the John L. Monk steroid scandal

I hope you read the whole thing, because it’s hilarious. And I really hope John will compile some of his story-posts into a book, or a graphic novel. I’ll keep nagging him about it…

If I get sued for using Oprah’s picture, I’ll be quite peeved, since John did it! It was John! I told him to use a giraffe!

John L. Monk

Against the wishes of my family and my attorney, my priest and my neighbor Tony and his kids, Wanda and Monique, and some of their friends at school, I’ve decided it was time to come clean about the so-called “steroid” scandal that has been circulating in the media about me this week.

When I started writing Kick, the competition was quite fierce in the rankings on Amazon. Every day, someone on top came hurtling down, only to be clawed to pieces by up-and-coming indie authors like Carol Ervin and Lindy Moone.  Fortunes were eradicated over night, families broken up, economies toppled, and empires reduced to rubble.  These young authors were like the Huns against the helpless farmers in Medieval Europe.  Who wants to read tame stuff like “Kick” ($2.99 on Amazon while supplies last) when they can fry their brains on Hyperlink from Hell or lose their…

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Disturbing incident at work today: they found out I’m a writer

This hysterical story was brought to you by the equally hysterical John L. Monk, author of “Kick“!
(Easiest way to describe this novel? “Quantum Leap” guy leaps into… “Dexter.”)

What? You didn’t read it? Go on, take the leap over to his blog and read it! Trust me!

John L. Monk

bruce-willisArriving at work today, I noticed something different.  My seat by the window had been moved next to the elevators.  Or, as it’s also known: the Directory Assistance Seat.  That’s because as soon as anyone gets off the elevator, they stop by and go, “Do you know where so-and-so sits?”

Whoever did it wasn’t happy with simply moving me: all my stuff had been piled on the floor in front of the empty desk.  When I turned to go find out what was going on, I discovered my way blocked by three of my coworkers: Pete, Ted and Ralph.

“Where do you think you’re going, John L. Monk?” Pete said, shoving my shoulder.

“Yeah, what’s the big hurry, college boy?” Ted said, shoving my other shoulder.  My favorite shoulder.

Ralph was the biggest of the bunch, and as dumb as he was mean.

“No like college boy,” he growled, and…

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