Cormac McCarthy~

I got set next to this woman… She kept on, kept on. Finally told me, said: I don’t like the way this country is headed. I want my granddaughter to be able to have an abortion. And I said well ma’am I don’t think you got any worries about the way the country is headed. The way I see it goin’ I don’t have much doubt but what she’ll be able to have an abortion. I’m goin’ to say that not only will she be able to have an abortion, she’ll be able to have you put to sleep. Which pretty much ended the conversation.

Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men

One of my favorite authors. Reading All the Pretty Horses carried me about as close to heaven as one can get.

Been reading. Recommends.

Thanks to my friend, author Anny Cook, I read my first official Regency. LOL! Seriously – LOL! The book was off-beat, atypical, laugh out loud funny and no – there was essentially zero sex, which I very much appreciated in my current nonpron mood. Rake’s Ransom by Barbara Metzger.

Rake's Ransom
Entertaining as all get out.

My dear friend, author Penny Watson, introduced me to Cecelia London, author of The Bellator Saga. I read the first book, Dissident. Cecelia brings her characters to serious life. They are no holds barred, alive. I can see and hear her protagonists speak. They speak to me. If you hate a series, well, all I can say is don’t read it– the book ends in a big old cliffhanger. If you love a series, go for it. I’m on my way to Book Two.

Dissident
Pretty cover!

If you want to be all sad and inspired and, well, simply feel, read When Breath Becomes Air, by (the late) Paul Kalanithi with an introduction by Abraham Verghese. It will make you cry. I’m not sorry for that- there’s no avoiding tears.

When Breath
A beautiful book.

So now you got some good recs. Go! Read!

 

Announcements.

Will be offline for a few weeks in early September.

For the time being all my books are available on Amazon exclusively. Nothing personal. This is a financial decision, but it is not set in stone. I will be evaluating the situation daily.

One of these days I shall get around to telling the my story. In the meantime, keep writing. It’s food for the soul.

Julia

To describe or not to describe? That is the question.

My personal opinion?

Say what you have to say in as few words as possible.

I’m not a big fan of flowery language in modern literature.

Flowers are fine for Shakespeare and Emily Bronte. Homer can be a bit wordy, but then his stuff is really old. As is Flavius Josephus. He’s kinda hard to get through. He’s relating factual history as he knows it, but his language is pretty stuffy by our standards. I’m sure his contemporaries understood it just fine.

What makes me DNF a book? Too much description. Too many unnecessary details. Unless it is essential to the story I don’t need a detailed description of, say, a desk. If a particular desk is integral to the story, well then yes, by all means provide a detailed description. If it’s just a desk, then it’s just a desk.

I don’t need to hear an endless recitation of the beauty, depth, color, or whatever of the heroines eyes.

Think of Brendan Fraser. Think of Brendan Fraser as The Most Sensitive Man in the World. (Bedazzled.) You get my drift. He’s too much.

What is essential to the story. That’s all I need. Use your words sparingly and if you use them right, you can make beautiful metaphors out of scarcity.

Haiku is the simplest most beautiful form of poetry, IMO. There is value in spare.

In the cicada’s cry
No sign can foretell
How soon it must die.

– Matsuo Bashō

#jhrom Jewish Romance. My heroines are smart, sexy, and yes, Jewish!

Here’s what my twitter bio says: (It really says this, I wrote it myself.)

Iowan.Writer of smart genre fiction. A lover of all things syfy, fantasy, GSDs. A Jewish hero or heroine in all my work. Author of the award-winning Captured.

Even if it is unstated, all my heroines are Jewish – from Mari in Captured, to Cara in Come Back to Me, to Eva in Beauty and the Feast, to Sara in Incorporeal, to Dr. Meera Driver in my fun Vixen comics. All of them.

Why?

1. I may be a mix of things, but I’m Jewish. My world view was and is shaped by my Jewish  roots, my Jewish family, my Jewish experiences, my Jewish education, the study of the Hebrew language and the Hebrew Bible, along with the New Testament (Hey, Jesus was a total Jew.), and my obsession with the study of history and religions.

2. I hate TSTL heroines. Hate ’em with a grand passion.

3. Every heroine I write is an aspect of me. Thus she/they is/are Jewish. And I’ve thrown some Jewish heroes into the stories for good measure.

4. Jewish women are hot. Get used to it. Sexy does not negate smart. Neither does smart negate sexy. Smart IS sexy.

5. I ain’t gonna hide what I am. I’m proud to be Jewish. I’m proud of what I write. I write what I want. And what I want is to write books about competent, complex, canny Jewish women.

Read my books. You will like them.

(Remember, sometimes I do plug my own books on this blog!)

Read a short story. Write a short story. Why?

Because a short story teaches you to economize. How to write a succinct beginning, middle, and end with no or minimal fluff.

Fluff = Unnecessary filler.

Assignment: Write a 5000 word short story.

Assignment: Write a 10,000 word short story.

Assignment: Write a 25,000 word short story.

Short story writers I recommend:

Me. I have a number of short stories which you can find in my book list. 🙂 (Look left.)

Believe it or not, Pistol Pete Maravich~ I swear he wrote a collection of short stories. Read ’em when I was a kid. Good luck finding them. I sure as heck cannot.

Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow fame).

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter).

Edgar Allen Poe.

John Steinbeck.

Ray Bradbury.

Henry James.

John  Cheever.

Sandra Cisneros. (I consider her novellas to be interconnected shorts.)

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. (Again, her novel,l Mistress of Spices, gives one a sense of interconnected shorts.)

Nadine Gordimer.

I’d like to include more female short story writers, but women, at least according to traditional publishers, tend to write long. Or perhaps they aren’t published and promoted until they write long. But it’s more than that. It’s not sexism. You’ll notice most of those men are dead or old dudes.

It’s this~ in America the writing of a short story has become a lost art. To our literary detriment.

It’s also this~ The interesting thing? Over the past ten years erotica writers have mastered the art of the short story. Concise writing. Beginning. Middle. End.

Tell a story in your head.

When I was a kid, I put myself to sleep every night by imagining myself as a character in a superhero comic. Sometimes I was the superhero (a girl regardless of the sex of the superhero), sometimes I was the villain (again, a girl), and sometimes I was the Polly Purebred heroine who needed saving. It was fun and, more important, it exercised the storytelling synapses of my brain. Keeps brain muscles from atrophy.

To this day (or night) I put myself to sleep by creating a story in which I am one of the main characters.

Do you do this? If not, do you want to do this?

It’s easy.

Pick a story, any story. Could be a Nancy Drew mystery, could be The Hunger Games, could be Outlander. Pick a body, or rather, a character, for yourself– either a preexisting character or make up an entirely new character and insert her/him into the story. Now, rewrite the story in your own words. Tell the story you would tell had you written that particular story.

I’m not suggesting you write fanfic. Except in your head.

I’m suggesting you grow your writing chops by learning from other genre writers. I prefer genre work because genre writers generally create more compelling, more romantic, and more relate-able characters. I’m not about to insert myself into War and Peace, although I’ve stuck myself into The War of the Roses plenty of times. (That Edward the IV was a hottie in his youth!)

Heroic books that make for great imaginary fanfic – Jane Eyre. Shogun. Outlander. Your favorite romance novel- insert title here ______________________________________________. Historical fiction. Norse mythology. Comic books– great for beginners. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to fly or become invisible or shrink or make crazy weather? And Thor? He’s the best! Always been one of my faves.

Go for it. Like choose your own adventure. Rewrite your favorite stories in your head. Work those abs! Uh, I mean brain cells!