“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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Geography Questions (With No Incorrect Answers)

Good morning! A group participation post. Don’t you just hate those?

Don’t groan, I won’t be going around “the room” looking to each of you individually, putting you on the spot. No need to avert your eyes or slide down in your chair; there are no wrong answers to these two simple questions. You may share your replies in the comments if you wish – which would seem obvious, I suppose, given naturally I can’t compel you to answer, of course. ;-)

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Warmth Amidst Winter’s Chill

As we know, e-books have changed writing in more ways than we can hope to count. Yet certain aspects of the “old-fashioned” paperback are hard to top. For instance, you can pull one you’d authored off a shelf and try to impress your nephew’s girlfriend…. ;-)

Excerpt from "Passports," on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.
Excerpt from “Passports,” on the iPad app for Kindle. Click to expand.

Naturally, it’s, uh, “tougher” to autograph Kindles. If you have one or more of my novels, I just wanted once more to say “Thank you.” I hope you have enjoyed, or will enjoy, the read(s).

After all, without you there is really no point to any of this. And in a more personal sense I mean you beyond being a reader/follower. The three months since the sudden deaths of my mother and my uncle (and with many a conversation with my father since then taking to spiraling downwards into his depressingly declaring he’s wishes he was dead too) have been the toughest and saddest of my life….

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Were Those Corpses Driving Motorcycles?

I watch new films only intermittently. Looking for something last night, we all agreed to try Mad Max: Fury Road. As it started, I joked, “Remember, it’s Oscar nominated….”

Uh, we managed about 15 minutes of it before all four of us gave up. (For one, it was the second time he’d tried to sit through it.) I’m sorry, “Best Picture?” Seriously?

We’ve seen a “diversity controversy” erupt around the Academy Awards as well. I haven’t followed it closely, other than I’ve noticed it argued the films Creed and/or Concussion should have been nominated for “Best Picture,” and that African-American actors have been largely ignored in other categories. I haven’t seen either film, but frankly, given that Mad Max was nominated, it seems indefensible one of those wasn’t.

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of film.

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“My dear and beloved….”

Okay, I’m going to risk showing my age again here. If you are around mine, you likely recall this as well. We are perhaps of the last generation that actually wrote letters on paper, by hand, which we stamped and put into the post:

Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.
Free Stock Photo: Illustration of a postmarked stamp.

I recall email catching fire when we were in our twenties – in the early 1990s. I got my first PC in 1994. The web came on about the same time.

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To Please Everybody

Readership out there now is truly global. As a writer, you can never know exactly who’s reading your book(s), or where, or why. Perhaps most importantly, you never know what a reader individually takes away from it – unless they tell you.

And do you always really want to know? I’m struck at times also by how some readers review a book on social media evidently hoping they had read a different book. I say that here because a review I’d recently seen on Goodreads of another author’s novel included – and I’m paraphrasing – this weird observation:

I liked it a lot. The characters are great. But it’s a romance novel. I don’t like romance novels.

As the author, how could you possibly satisfy someone like that? Answer: you couldn’t. “I’m sorry it’s a ‘romance’ novel,” I’d think, “but the book’s description made that pretty clear. Treatises on the Battle of Midway are found elsewhere….”

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The Big Fear: “What if it’s awful?”

Whether we like it or not, life is one big risk-taking venture. Yet fearing to fail is one reason most of us don’t try to do what we want to do. Who really wants to look like a fool?

Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.
Free Stock Photo: Closeup of business man burying head in hand.

So failure may be in the back of our mind. But I have usually found myself motivated to achieve something positive as being worth the risk of failing. I enjoy proving doubters wrong as well, and although I haven’t always succeeded on that score, whenever I have it has been a tremendously satisfying feeling.

I ventured into fiction-writing because I felt certain that if I put my back into it I could produce novels that would be solid reading. Now, though, I’ve moved my own goal posts. After three semi-biographical/ semi-autobiographical novels, the idea of trying something new within fiction is more than a bit intimidating, and even scary.

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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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Don’t Think You Aren’t Missed

Ahem. While I’ve got your attention, I’d like to say this. I think it needs saying.

I admit it, I can become “attached.” If I don’t see posts for too long from those I check regularly, I find I feel a bit down. I wonder, where did you go? Is something wrong?

If you are going on hiatus, perhaps to take a cruise….

Cruise ship. Key West, Florida. [Photo by me, 2014.]
Cruise ship. Key West, Florida. [Photo by me, 2014.]

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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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