I intended to beaver up a writing-related post this week, but couldn’t marshal my thoughts. So the trumpet lily “Golden Splendour” must stand in for me. It is well-named — huge flowers on five-foot stems. I only wish the photos could convey the luxurious perfume as well.
Confession: the photos are from 2010 and 2012. The lilies are blooming right now and look just like this, but I have them netted against deer. Our current gang of urban deer eat all sorts of things — fennel and pelargoniums (geraniums) as well as the usual daylilies and asters. I didn’t want to take a chance with “Golden Splendour.” The black plastic netting and the clothespins holding it to the stakes look a bit weird and detract from the beauty of the flowers.
Did you know that the average life of a butterfly is around two weeks? Some species only live a day or two and other species are capable of living around nine months. It makes me sad to think that such a beautiful creature’s life is so short.
On the other hand, Cockroaches are filthy, immortal scavengers that are unaffected by radiation. In a post-apocalyptic world, it will be these dirty little critters that survive. Okay, they’re not really immortal but when you read facts like: a roach can live a week without its head, you begin to wonder. The truth is that as long as there is shelter and food, cockroaches can comfortably live in a home or business for years, creating massive infestations.
Anyway, the average moth can live up to five weeks. Some people see moths as the butterfly’s ugly cousin. I’m not…
Thanks for joining me for this walk to the crossroads.
This chapter comes with a couple of warnings.
Warning 1: It’s long. I can hear some of you groaning.
Warning 2: It’s the conclusion, the last chapter. Now I hear the rest of you.
I didn’t know until Monday that Chapter 10 was the penultimate chapter, or I would have… well, I would have warned you.
My heartfelt thanks to Dan Antion of No Facilities for letting me use his wonderful photos throughout this series. Dan went above and beyond the call as my collaborator for this story. He was always ready to get just the right image for each episode. He was proactive, doing all sorts of photo shoots at antique stores, with birds, and at crossroads. Plus, he patiently let me bounce ideas around, no matter…
“Recently I’ve seen sad posts by a number of new writers who are having trouble
marketing a self-published debut novel, or are discouraged by numerous
rejections. Some are furious at the world for not loving their stuff.
In a lot of their work, I see the same
problem. It’s usually right there in the title or on the cover (if the cover is
The books are too cluttered. The authors
are hoarding too many characters, themes and messages. It’s time for them to
Marie Kondo their work.
For anybody who doesn’t pay attention to
popular culture, Marie
Kondo is a superstar organizing consultant
and author with her own show on Netflix.
Her principles can be applied to writing
as well as housekeeping.” Good
While the movie portrays some of the most
ordinary events you can imagine, the context of those events amplifies every
scene. It’s about a married couple planning their 45th wedding anniversary
right when a stunning revelation surfaces from the husband’s past.
Without the context of the
anniversary—which is right there in the movie title—the story wouldn’t be half
as affecting. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Monica
Wood discusses how context is a “descriptive
background in a story that sheds light on its meaning.” And, as she points out,
it’s larger than plot:”
“No.” As the tinny reply sounded in my
headphones, I could picture the speaker, a white guy in his early thirties,
chubby and tentative. After his arrest outside his apartment building, his mother
had filed a complaint on his behalf with the Civilian Complaint Review Board.
She said a female cop had struck him with a baton while kneeling on his back. I
was the investigator assigned to the case, charged with determining if
unnecessary force had been used. In a bare room at 40 Rector Street, the
agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, I’d taken sworn statements from both
mother and son. Now I was transcribing the tapes for the case file.”
In May, someone tweeted to me, asking if I
could follow them back so they could DM me. I saw that the woman was an
acquisitions editor and not a cam girl, so I followed her back. Then apologized
for my delay in responding, and explained that I’d been offline for a few days
while completing final edits for RACKED.
She asked if she could email me instead.
After giving her my email address, I still
didn’t give the quick exchange much thought. But then my curiosity got the
better of me and I engaged in a little online stalking research
and discovered she’s an acquisitions editor for Globe Pequot, subsidiary
of Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., one of the largest publishers
of nonfiction and America’s leading book distributor.
Some of us might have Googled a question
and discovered a helpful author’s blog. Or we might have encountered authors on
social media or came across a flyer for a writing workshop. Or we might have
noticed the support around an online fandom.
Soon, we realize that most writers support
and encourage each other through tons of resources, blog posts, social media,
etc. However, it’s also nice to have a more personal writing
community that we can reach out to for help.”
“A lot of professions use visuals to brainstorm. Storyboarding is an essential
tool for filmmakers, while mood boards are used in advertising. If you think
about it, the ultimate goal of a writer is to transport their readers into
another dimension so completely that they experience words on paper at a
visceral level. So plotting a story using visual techniques would seem a
natural extension of writing. I imagine many writers do this in some form or
another. But what if you could have your pictures all in one place? Enter the
It would not be surprising if you haven’t
heard of this writing technique, because I recently developed it to streamline
and improve the efficiency of my writing process.”
Some Things More Serious:
“The first time I met him, my father-in-law Art regaled me with stories of the
Spanish conquistador who claimed territory and opened trade routes for his
queen before he traveled to California, married a local woman and sired Art’s
family tree. His connection to this valiant man was a great source of pride,
but what he didn’t know was that the story wasn’t true.
I used a genealogy site to uncover all I
could about Art’s conquistador connection. I hoped to be able to find
documentation of his ancestor’s swashbuckling and present the information to
him on his 85th birthday. Unfortunately, I learned the so-called conquistador
was, in fact, “Mexican Prisoner Number Four” — a criminal who made his way to
California to start a new life after his release.
I’m not sure whether the prisoner sold
himself as the conquistador Art believed him to be, or other family members
changed the story later to avoid embarrassment. However, the lie came about, my
father-in-law and his family aren’t unique. Plenty of families hide skeletons
behind more appealing, albeit fictitious, versions of their history. It’s not
easy to accept the ugly parts of the past, whether it’s our family’s past, our
community’s or our country’s.”
2. https://lithub.com/in-patriarchy-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-rebecca-solnit-on-jeffrey-epstein-and-the-silencing-machine/ “One
of my favorite books when I was young was T. H. White’s The Once and
Future King, and one of its central themes is the attempt of King Arthur to
replace an ethos of “might is right” with something closer to justice. Justice
means everyone is equal under the law—and equality means both that everyone has
equal value under the law and that everyone is subject to the law. That’s been
a foundational concept for the United States, but might is right has never
ceased to be how things actually work at least some of the time. In
White’s novel, might means in part the capacity for physical violence on the
part of individual warriors, armies, tribes, and kingdoms, but the ability of
individuals (and corporations and nations) to commit that violence with impunity
is another kind of might that matters now.
The great work of investigative
journalists in recent years has let us see might, naked and corrupt, doing its
best to trample, silence, discredit the less powerful and their rights and with
it the idea of right as an ethic independent of power. That these men actually
run the media, the government, the financial system says everything about what
kind of systems they are. Those systems have toiled to protect them, over and
over. Indeed, power is not vested in them but in the individuals and
institutions all around them. This makes it essential to look past individual
perpetrators to the systems that allow them to commit crimes with impunity.”
“What was the first book you fell in love with?
Certainly it’s hard to say, for sure. I’ve loved books for so long! I remember
a book calledOur Universe, from National Geographic, which was this big
unruly thing, and I remember being most captivated by their painted imaginings
of what extraterrestrials from other planets looked like. I remember greedily
collecting comic strip collections of Garfield, Bloom County, Calvin
& Hobbes, The Far Side. I have in my heart books like The
Cricket in Times Square, Bunnicula, and everything by Beverly Cleary.
But the first book I remember
falling into as if it were a hole dug in the earth—or a hole
that went all the way through the Earth and out the other side—was The
Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. Hell, not just that one, but the whole
Prydain Chronicles series. I’ve read The Hobbit and several of
the Narnia books, but nothing clicked with me like the Prydain books.”
“Plato wanted to banish poets from his
Republic because they can make lies seem like truth. Shelley thought poets were
“the unacknowledged legislators of the world,” and Auden insisted that “poetry
makes nothing happen.”
In my experience, there are many reasons
to seek publication in these journals. When a literary journal is new, the
editors tend to be a lot more passionate. I have gotten handwritten thank you
cards from editors of new publications, something that has never happened when
my work was published by a more established journal.”
Meanwhile, in many parts of the United
States, you just might not know it. Around 90% of US homes
are air-conditioned, compared to a paltry 5%
of European homes. In modern buildings, climate is controlled through
mechanical means. A heck of a lot of energy is needed to avoid climate realities.
Builders in the U.S., especially in more hot and humid climes in the south, are
wont to warn homeowners not to even open their windows, lest nature seep in,
and mold eat away at the very walls. This is the way many of us live now, isolated
from the outdoors.”
“Iwouldn’t normally air my dirty literary linen in public, but here goes. When
I finished writing my novel Putney, about a 13-year-old girl who has a “love
affair” in the 1970s with an older man and realises decades later that it was
actually abuse, my previous editor at Jonathan Cape chose not to publish it.
The reasons emerged this year when he
was interviewed in the Spectator. “If Lolita was offered to me today,” Dan
Franklin said, “I’d never be able to get it past the acquisition team – a
committee of 30-year-olds, who’d say: ‘If you publish this book we will all
resign.’” He pointed to #MeToo and social media as fundamental factors: “You
can organise outrage at the drop of a hat.”
Fortunately, Bloomsbury’s acquisition team
– overwhelmingly female and mixed aged – were brave enough to take on Putney,
which was described
in the Observer as “a Lolita for the era of #MeToo”. Whether there was any
truth in his words or not, Franklin’s position reveals how much fear now exists
Book Reviews, Cover Reveals, & Author
“In 1949, Aloysius Archer arrives in the dusty Southern town of Poca City. He
has nothing but a handful of dollars, the clothes he’s wearing and an
appointment with his new parole officer. After his wartime experiences in Italy
and a prison sentence for a crime he didn’t commit, Archer is looking for a
fresh start and a peaceful life.
On his first night of freedom, Archer
meets local business tycoon Hank Pittleman, who promises Archer handsome
compensation to work as his debt collector. Yet Archer takes on more than he
bargains for, as he becomes embroiled in a long-running feud between the
drought-struck town’s most dangerous residents. When one of them dies, the
authorities label Archer as their number one suspect.
A bloody game is being played above and
below the law. Everybody playing has a deeply buried secret, and Archer must
uncover them all – if he’s to avoid going back behind bars.”
The innocently enticing young entrepreneur
opening an equestrian camp for children with handicaps.
Her initial impression of him is clearly
wrong. For some reason, known to
the reader but unknown to him, Sarah mistakenly believes that Lucas
Rockworth is a shy, sensitive man. After having to deal a lifetime
with a dominating older brother and controlling father, she finds
these traits very appealing.
Her recent breakup with someone who could
best be described as a bully
has Sarah longing for a kinder, gentler man in her life.”
A group of explorers arrive in the remote
town of Birchlake, Northern California, to investigate the appearance of
mysterious stone walls.
WHAT THEY FOUND WERE QUESTIONS
A teenage girl has disappeared without a
FOR NOT EVERYONE IS AS THEY SEEM
Soon it becomes clear that the two events
may be connected in the most terrifying way. Because sometimes the walls we
build end up closing us in . . .”
4. A lethal virus is awoken on an
abandoned spaceship in this incredibly fast-paced, claustrophobic thriller.
They thought the ship would be their
Zahra knew every detail of the
plan. House of Wisdom, a massive exploration vessel, had been abandoned by
the government of Earth a decade earlier, when a deadly virus broke out and
killed everyone on board in a matter of hours. But now it could belong to her
people if they were bold enough to take it. All they needed to do was
kidnap Jaswinder Bhattacharya—the sole survivor of the tragedy, and the
last person whose genetic signature would allow entry to the spaceship.
But what Zahra and her crew could not know
was what waited for them on the ship—a terrifying secret buried by the
government. A threat to all of humanity that lay sleeping alongside the
There are moments I liken you to a galaxy. You outshine a cluster of stars and I find myself completely starstruck, this is no momentary blindness, but wide eyed captivity. You are the only planet inhabiting my solar system…