“An attempt to explain to the English reader….”

Last year here in London at my in-laws, I stumbled on a virtually pristine 1948 British published hardcover of Raymond Chandler’s famous The Big Sleep. Yesterday, I found another 1940s hardcover; it’s condition isn’t quite as good, but it still possesses a mostly intact dust jacket. It’s a 1944 book by a British academic:

[Photo by me, 2016.]
[Photo by me, 2016.]

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Semi-Random Thoughts For This Morning

Good morning! The mind can sometimes be all over the place on a Monday morning. So this post is something of a mishmash. :-)

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“Hello” new followers!

I see my tongue-in-cheek “letter” I’d written in 18th century English was something some of you found amusing.

Warning: I’m not always that amusing!

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Now, Google Plus

Happy Wednesday! Adele Archer suggested it, and she’s probably right. So forget the final State of the Union address to be given by the current U.S. President. Presidents come and presidents go, but I have a Google+ page now:

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Dueling iPads At Dawn

We can forget – or we choose maybe to try to overlook – how competitive writing can be. Given the nature of the craft, that isn’t surprising: some authors will invariably achieve more success than others. Clearly, though, as in other walks of life, chasing success can also bring out the worst in some people.

There used to be a time that when honor was deemed at stake gentlemen took to the dueling field with pistols to settle their scores. Today, we’ve moved on. In our more egalitarian world, we ALL can throw dirt at each other on social media.

In the writing realm, those in the same genre seem the most likely to go head to head. If you ever find yourself in the line of fire between feuding authors, the best thing to do is run. At the very least, try to take whatever cover you can find.

Free Stock Photo: Soldier in gas mask with cloud of smoke.
Free Stock Photo: Soldier in gas mask with cloud of smoke.

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See You Next In The 18th Century

It is a great way to start the new year: yesterday, the light bulb went on over my head. I don’t recall precisely what had led my mind down this route. However, one irritation certainly helped encourage me.

We see this a lot. Recently on Twitter, I encountered yet another person who authoritatively tweets easily debunked false/misleading Thomas Jefferson quotes. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this person do it, and, fed up with saying nothing, when I finally pointed one out to him as provably false evidently he thought joking about it justifies messing around with the historical record. He chose not to delete, or even to amend, that tweet, and as of today it remains up for his “100,000” Twitter followers and anyone else to stumble upon as “fact”:

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Seeing that nonsense may have helped clarify my thinking. I know now what I’m going to try to do for my fourth novel. After my mind focused on the idea, I clicked around on the net to scope out any similar books and I’ve seen nothing exactly like it so far.

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For 2016: Let’s Resolve To Listen And Learn

The Voice of America radio and web site is about the closest you will find to an “official” media voice of the government of the United States. I like to visit it regularly – just to see what my government is thinking publicly. (Now, now, let’s not be overly cynical about public v. private for a moment at least.) Today, it has this story about New Year’s Resolutions:

Screen capture of the VOA web site.
Screen capture of the VOA web site.

The world is still a huge, diverse place. We always have our differences. Political ones are perhaps the touchiest.

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How “Powerful” Is Your Passport?

This is an interesting web site, and it got me thinking. It’s called the “Passport Index.” It ranks the world’s passports by “power”:

Screen Capture of Passport Index.
Screen Capture of Passport Index.

The “most powerful” are not too surprising. That ranking is due to how many countries you can visit as a tourist on that passport without needing to obtain a visa. In the case of the U.K. and the U.S., their passport holders (as of today) may enter 147 countries without needing to apply for a visa.

The “least powerful?” South Sudan’s. A South Sudanese passport will get you entry into only 28 countries (again, as of today) without a visa.

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“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”

If you ever find yourself hereabouts in upstate New York, try to visit Springwood, President Franklin Roosevelt’s family home in Hyde Park. Seeing it is like stepping back into the America of the first half of the 20th century. Having been there several times, I always smile when I pull into the lot and realize again that he lived on what is today non-descript Route 9 – although well back at the end of a massive “driveway.”

Less well-known, his wife Eleanor’s Val-Kill. Springwood was her mother-in-law’s home, so her having her own personal retreat was no shock. It’s a drive over – it’s not on the Springwood estate – but it’s not far away and, although naturally much smaller than Springwood, really shouldn’t be missed. It’s a modest house any of us could imagine living in ourselves.

Screen capture of the National Park Service web site.
Screen capture of the National Park Service web site.

Since visiting it a couple of years back, I had been meaning to buy a biography of her. (I was also the only man on our house tour of about a dozen – including the guide – but we’ll leave that there.) I’d thought Amazon for Christmas would do. I added one to my “Wish List.”

How Amazon has changed the book world. You may recall I had had a bit of a laugh when I had accidentally noticed who Amazon identifies as among my own novels’ literary “competition.” Here, I noticed what others who’d bought that same Eleanor Roosevelt biography had also purchased:

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Trump-ed Up Hysteria

In recent days, we have all encountered it on television and the internet. We are lectured by bombastic voices that all people holding the Islamic faith overseas should not be allowed to set foot in the U.S. (temporarily, of course, we are also dutifully informed by some) because it’s a religion that includes terrorists. At a single stroke, a billion people have all been decreed terrorists by faith association.

Screen capture of Twitter.
Screen capture of Twitter.

Yes, a tiny number of Muslims born in the U.S., and recent immigrants, have turned to a terrorism they claim they undertake in the name of Islam. Some of those have even moved abroad to join terror groups. I’m unaware of anyone in the U.S. government asserting that troubling issue should be ignored.

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Lessons I’ve Learned In Writing Three Novels

I had been planning to keep this private. But given this post, and everything I’d written about him here over time, I felt I should share it here. The “story” needed an “ending”:

Screen capture of Messenger.
Screen capture of Messenger.

A pat on the back is wonderful, but that’s not why I posted that. It’s because I can’t believe that brief message marked the conclusion to the roughly two decades’ long correspondence between my novelist uncle and myself – first by email (when he was on something called “CompuServe” and I was on something called “America Online”) and then mostly by Facebook. That October 3rd Messenger note was the last one he fired off to me just before he went into the hospital for what we had all thought would be a “routine” procedure.

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