Saturday, August 20, 2022

[Link] Hemingway’s Advice on Writing, Ambition, the Art of Revision, and His Reading List of Essential Books for Aspiring Writers

“In any art you’re allowed to steal anything if you can make it better.”

by Maria Popova

“As a writer you should not judge. You should understand,” Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899–July 2, 1961) counseled in his 1935 Esquire compendium of writing advice, addressed to an archetypal young correspondent but based on a real-life encounter that had taken place a year earlier.

In 1934, a 22-year-old aspiring writer named Arnold Samuelson set out to meet his literary hero, hoping to steal a few moments with Hemingway to talk about writing. The son of Norwegian immigrant wheat farmers, he had just completed his coursework in journalism at the University of Minnesota, but had refused to pay the $5 diploma fee. Convinced that his literary education would be best served by apprenticing himself to Hemingway, however briefly, he hitchhiked atop a coal car from Minnesota to Key West. “It seemed a damn fool thing to do,” Samuelson later recalled, “but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.” Unreasonable though the quest may have been, he ended up staying with Hemingway for almost an entire year, over the course of which he became the literary titan’s only true protégé.

Samuelson recorded the experience and its multitude of learnings in a manuscript that was only discovered by his daughter after his death in 1981. It was eventually published as With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba (public library) — the closest thing to a psychological profile.

Read the full article:

Friday, August 19, 2022

Airship 27 Productions presents The Last Days of Poe

Airship 27 Production is proud to present famed writer R.A. Jones’ latest work of unparalleled imagination, “The Last Days of Poe.”

While on a trip to Baltimore, writer Edgar Allan Poe finds himself lost one night in the bustling new American metropolis. He stumbled upon a strange mansion on the city’s outskirts where he is welcomed by a bizarre figure to attend a garish ball.

The little guide, named Reynolds, wears a realistic head mask of a sharp-tooth dog and once inside the weird festivities, leads Poe to an upstairs room to meet his host. There assembled are six other wanderers also puzzled by their own presence there. When the master arrives, he is garbed in a long red cloak and hood and wears a frightening skull mask. He calls himself the Red Death and explains that they are invited to partake in a contest of spiritual survival.  

If any of them can find the exit to the house, they will be set free. Whereas any who fail will die and their souls condemned to the fires of hell.

Writer R.A. Jones spins a fanciful tale of horror and human despair that unveils the true sins of six people and their desperate attempts to flee their own inescapable judgment. Artist Chuck Bordell provides the black and white interior illustrations and the cover is by the popular Adam Shaw.


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Movie Reviews for Writers: Half Light

In this thrilling haunted story, Demi Moore plays Rachel Carlson, a best-selling mystery writer who has recently lost her son and is struggling with guilt. So, she moves to the coastal countryside to think and write and figure out what to do about her now-failing marriage. 

I'll admit that I was expecting a more "by the numbers" thriller, but this one has a lot of emotional intensity. It's as much a drama as it is a ghost story. And Moore really delivers the goods as Rachel, the grieving mother with a deadline to hit. On that basis alone it's well worth watching. 

But, as with all the movies I review here for you, it also has so much to say about the lives we writers experience. 

During a conversation at the beginning of the film, when Rachel's husband Brian receives another rejection for his manuscript, the two of them joke about "Tabitha King Syndrome." For those who don't know, Tabitha King is a capable writer who had the bad luck to be married to Stephen King -- not because he was a bad husband, but because it meant anything she wrote would find it hard to grow so deeply entrenched in his shadow. But it doesn't just apply to family members. 

If a friend has ever recommended you to their publisher, there's always the risk of being ignored because the publisher understands you're doing your duty as a friend or being given the "friendly review" that means nothing because it wasn't really looked at because they were doing their regular writer a favor. 

It also means that as a writer, there's always someone in whose shadow you live and whom you are at least a little bit jealous of. I don't have to tell you how it feels to see friends you wrote with when you were all starting now writing regularly for awesome properties and one even recently hitting the New York Times best-seller charts for a graphic novel. Meanwhile, I struggle in relative obscurity with my own tales that I'm vehemently proud of and committed to continuing. Still, as much as I'm proud of them, the struggle against jealousy is real. 

The flip side of that is, of course, the bit she tells her husband when he feels that way. "I couldn't have done it without you," she says, and since he's also her editor, she's absolutely right. He's one of the reasons her prose is so marketable and so clean. They continue:

Rachel: They'll know you one day. Look at all the help you've given me.
Brian: That's editing, darling. It's not the same thing.
Rachel: You're the best editor in London; is that so bad? Max Perkins saved Hemingway.
Brian: Yes, well, no one remembers Max Perkins, and he's right up there with Tabitha what's-her-face. 

Of course, kudos to Rachel for knowing and appreciating the help of her editor. 

One of my favorite fallacies is one this movie explores beautifully -- the idea that the better the scenery/environment, the easier it should be to write. To some degree, there is some truth to this. Some sense of calm or quiet is needed for many, if not most, writers I know. Some sense of solitude, for many others, can also help. But there is no perfect place to write just as there is no perfect anything. Writing is an art, yes, but it's also a skill set, a practiced and trained technique of putting words onto paper. As such, as long as base criteria are met for being able to focus, no perfect place exists. 

Regardless, as Rachel looks over the green coast and the rolling seas, she exclaims, "If I can't write here, I can't write anywhere."

It's a nice thought, but as I said before, it's also horse shit. 

It would be more accurate to say while in your home office with your kids constantly interrupting you and your dog barking to go out, "If I can write anywhere, I can write here." 

Another key point I enjoyed in this creepy flick is how life can shut down our creativity. Notice I don't refer to it at all as writer's block. I call it what it is, our creativity being shut down by our circumstances. Semantics, I know, but even though the results are the same, an inability to write temporarily, it's important to know that it's not something outside us that shuts up down, it's something inside us, something begging us to deal with it. 

Of all the things that shut down our creativity, it's often the things that haunt us that do it the most, whether bills, family struggles, or other issues -- or in this case, grieving the death of a loved one. 

In some cases, the best case if you ask me, writing can be part of that healing process for the things that are haunting us. It can be therapeutic. But that doesn't mean it always is. Sometimes, we need to pull away and deal with those outside things before we can be free to write again. And that's okay. 

The last of the major points Half Light shows us is that, as I've mentioned before in several other reviews, we are known by our writing. It's there we truly live. It's in those words and paragraphs and stories where the secrets of our thoughts and beliefs and values come out and shake hands with our readers. 

When Rachel hands a copy of her book to the hunky lighthouse keeper, he tells her, "I'll find out all about you."

She responds, "Maybe."

But the assumption (okay, truth) is already stated: When I read your book, I'll learn about you and what you think about people and life.

It's one of my favorite things about having so many writers as friends. Even though we may never get to see each other often since we're scattered all over the country, and indeed the world, we can build a deep understanding of each other through reading each others' stories. 

One interesting tidbit was watching Rachel work. It's not a big thing, but it was nostalgic for me. She used what I learned as the "notecard method." She put plot and character points on index cards and then tacked them up and grouped them by scenes and themes. It was nostalgic for me because that's the way I learned to plot a novel. I didn't do it long, and it was far more a "how to write" book way of doing it rather than the more organic method I learned most working writers used, but still, it was fun to see it displayed onscreen. After all, every writer has to start somewhere, and it's still a useful method for keeping all that information organized when writing. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

[Link] Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69

by Peter Stone

Gabriel García Márquez was interviewed in his studio/office located just behind his house in San Angel Inn, an old and lovely section, full of the spectacularly colorful flowers of Mexico City. The studio is a short walk from the main house. A low elongated building, it appears to have been originally designed as a guest house. Within, at one end, are a couch, two easy chairs, and a makeshift bar—a small white refrigerator with a supply of acqua minerale on top.

The most striking feature of the room is a large blown-up photograph above the sofa of García Márquez alone, wearing a stylish cape and standing on some windswept vista looking somewhat like Anthony Quinn.

García Márquez was sitting at his desk at the far end of the studio. He came to greet me, walking briskly with a light step. He is a solidly built man, only about five feet eight or nine in height, who looks like a good middleweight fighter—broad-chested, but perhaps a bit thin in the legs. He was dressed casually in corduroy slacks with a light turtleneck sweater and black leather boots. His hair is dark and curly brown and he wears a full mustache.

The interview took place over the course of three late-afternoon meetings of roughly two hours each. Although his English is quite good, García Márquez spoke mostly in Spanish and his two sons shared the translating. When García Márquez speaks, his body often rocks back and forth. His hands too are often in motion making small but decisive gestures to emphasize a point, or to indicate a shift of direction in his thinking. He alternates between leaning forward towards his listener, and sitting far back with his legs crossed when speaking reflectively.

Read the full article:

Friday, August 12, 2022

Airship 27 Productions presents Caged Fury

Airship 27 Production is thrilled to announce the release of “Caged Fury.” The third in writer R.A. Jones’ western series featuring bounty hunter Jason Mankiller.

After a deadly shoot-out with outlaws, bounty hunter Jason Mankiller founds himself in the small town of Low Water. Upon delivering the bodies of the criminals to the local marshal, he is immediately arrested for murder and locked up. Then, before he could comprehend what was happening, he’s put on trial in front of a kangaroo court set on finding him guilty. Too late, Mankiller realizes both the town marshal and mayor are also wanted men who have set themselves up as the law in this out-of-the-way hick village.

Found guilty, h’s sent to the hell hole known as the Pima Territorial Prison run by the sadistic Warden Holden Mayhew. Now the bounty hunter’s only goal is to stay alive long enough for his friends to learn of his fate and find a way to free him. But in Pima, that’s not going to be easy when he’s surrounded on all sides by brutal and savage killers. 

Once again, western writer R.A. Jones delivers a fast-paced, action-packed adventure starring his one and only “Man Who Cries Blood.” Artist Chris Rawding provides the cover and Neil T. Foster the nine black and white interior illustration. All assembled by award-winning Art Director Rob Davis.


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

[Link] 50 Pulp Cover Treatments of Classic Works of Literature

Guns, Broads, Beefcake, Literariness

by Emily Temple

Last month at CrimeReads, Rebecca Romney looked at a few classic detective novels that had, at one time or another, gotten makeovers as sexy pulps—because as we all know, the easiest way to sell something is to make it look salacious (whether it actually is or not). But it isn’t only great detective novels that have gotten the pulp treatment. Classic works of literary fiction have existed as pulps from the very beginning of pulp—the new paperback publishers of the 1940s and 50s printed them right along with classic crime and some genuinely lowbrow (and sometimes quite lurid) new novels, often commissioning the very same artists to design their covers. Below, I dug up a few of these pulpified classics (not including the Pulp! The Classics imprint)—many of which I found through the excellent resource Pulp Covers. Some are true pulp covers—with overtly sexy women and tantalizing movie-esque taglines—while others are just amusingly lowbrow mass market treatments of highbrow novels. Either way, they’re even better than you’d expect.

Read the full article and see the pretty pictures:

Friday, August 5, 2022

Introducing The Last (The War of Souls Book 1)

The War of Souls is lost

For five thousand years, the Nephilim, begotten by the angels cast out of Heaven, have fought to corrupt mankind. Opposing them are the Ageless, the offspring of the Seraphim. Mankind’s fate hangs in the balance.

But Hell cheats...

While Earth suffers a slow-motion climate apocalypse, the love of Heaven is losing the War, while the hate and lies of Hell are winning. When the last human soul is finally corrupted, Armageddon will sweep the Earth clean.

Only one warrior for Heaven remains, Empa, the last of the Ageless, daughter of the Seraphim Raphael, Angel of Healing. She is opposed by the full complement of Hell's minions, two-hundred Nephilim. She’s unable to quit, even though she knows all is lost.

But the war isn't over yet, and hope rises unbidden. Empa searches for a weapon that may tip the balance toward Heaven’s favor for the first time. With the experiences and skills of thousands of years, but an equal burden of PTSD, she is a survivor. She has learned from the very best and worst of mankind, finally shunning love to avoid heartbreak.

But love is her greatest weapon against the minions of Hell.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Persistence in the Face of Great Adversity

by David James

As I sit here in my car doing my best to figure out exactly what I'm going to write about, I think about a friend of mine that's well published that uses a voice recorder in his ear while he goes hiking to do his first drafts. And I think of a marketer who uses a voice recorder to automatically type what he wants written for his marketing campaigns into Google Docs. Thus, using inspiration from both of them, I am doing voice-to-text right now as I think about what it is I am going to write.

One of the things that I admire in writers, is how they can take over a known universe, and make it their own, giving us a great story in it that continues the universe's Legacy. I think of the Star Wars Expanded Universe of novels. I think of the Star Trek novels. I think of authors that take over after other authors have died such as what Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson have done with Frank Herbert's Dune, and what Brandon Sanderson did for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, or what Todd McCaffrey did after his mom died with the Pern novels.

For myself, when I was growing up, and in my early 20s, I would sometimes write Star Trek or Marvel or some such in a short story form yet I never would finish the story. A lot of it was just done for fun anyway. I would even have wild ideas I would start writing down and had nothing to do with anything established. I had friends would say to me what I wrote was very readable. Yet, I never would continue nor finish them. I always thought I would, but never did.

Then, I decided to be serious. I bought a used copy of Dean Koontz's book How To Write Bestselling Fiction, and I read it like a writer's bible. I bought Stephen King's On Writing and read it. Then I came up with various stories of my own which I started. I have a whole universe of stories in my head just waiting to be told or finished being told. A few years back I lost a 20x20 storage unit that I was not able to pay; many, many, many stories were lost forever that had been in progress. Yet, the last one that I had been working on, I had somehow been wise enough to save PDF files online which I was able to recover.

I have gone through the PDF, the full PDF, a few times now, and I want to finish it. Yet, here I am sitting in my car, it's raining outside, I am homeless, very tired, and autistic, and have a hard time concentrating in public when I pull out my computer. A friend even got me a computer recently, because my other one was messed up and I hadn't been able to write in over a year. Files are on it as well. I sometimes can concentrate, and sometimes not. It varies, depending on what stimulation I have going on around me.

I rather hope to finish my story someday, and perhaps restart some of the stories I had started previously, yet never finished. Perhaps I can finish those as well. Yet, each day is its own struggle just to survive. I have to keep gas in the car to be sure I have air conditioning so I am not too hot. I have to make sure I have food each day. And most times I don't have any shelter other than the roof of my car. Friends help me out with donations on occasion. Even though the novel is not finished, I am considering sectioning up the part I already have, which is over 100 pages, into a few sections which could be sold on the Kindle Vella. How many would be interested in finding out more about the story I currently have?

When I think of how other writers are able to step into other universes and just take off with those universes and do so well, I look at myself and how I'm just working on my own stories, and my own universe, and how although it would be wonderful to write a Star Wars novel or a Marvel comic book or a Star Trek novel or some other thing, I just want to see my own stories in print.

If there is one thing I can say, whether one is published or not, whether one has finished a story or not, if you are a writer, then you have to write. I have other aspects of me as well and I am a trained healer. I am a certified Wholistic Health Coach. I have also trained in a very specific healing technique, which is highly effective. I love to help people. And I love to see them get better. Writing is something which causes people to feel good. Reading words helps one to become a better person. I believe that is why I have such a drive to write, and to never give up. Persistence truly is the key to success. Whatever success you have, it is because you are persistent, no matter what!