Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Just a little treat ( Well, a treat for me anyway. I love writing stories. ) for those of you who read this blog. I hope this little ghost story gives you a bit of reading pleasure.

by Sandra Seamans

James Ridley sat on the beach staring out at the ocean, the searing blaze of the afternoon sun barely warming his chilled skin. He'd been shivering from the cold slap of his past ever since he'd opened Jedidiah Kramer’s letter. The ancient caretaker of Ridley House had written to inform James that it was time to return home. Natalie needed him.

Home? Ridley House hadn't been his home in over thirty years. Not since he was ten and his mother had swallowed her fear and ripped him from the clutches of that hollow house. The two of them had climbed on the first bus out of Pennsylvania, traveling west until they ran out of land. His mother had kept him close, watching for signs that Natalie was whispering in his ear, trying to lure him back to Ridley House. Mother's fear was his shadow, always a half a step behind and gaining.

He vaguely remembered the chilling legend of Ridley House, the stories whispered behind his back when his parents thought he wasn't listening. Gruesome tales of Natalie Ridley whose ghost possessed Ridley House. The shuddering story of her death in the strangling hands of her jealous husband, a man who lacked the ability to trust his wife's love. James remembered sitting in the upstairs hall and staring at the water stained oak floorboards where Natalie's tears had fallen as her husband squeezed the life out of her. His ears assaulted by the whisper of her final words floating on the cold drafts that shuddered through the halls, "My heart will beat forever within the walls of Ridley House until a Ridley heart can beat one full measure of love and compassion for her who lives within."

With the arrival of Kramer's letter, a tsunami of half forgotten memories swept over James, drowning him in terror. The smell of fear oozing from the walls, wails of grief that tortured the night, his childhood dreams filled with a palpable evil that seeped from every corner and crevice of the house.

In the wash of memories, James could hear Natalie's voice riding the callous, thumping wave of Ridley hearts, beckoning him back to Ridley House. He remembered with vivid clarity the night he and his mother left Ridley House behind. The vision of his father, arms spread in surrender, as Natalie's ghost reached out and tore the heart from his chest. The thud of his father's heartbeat as it joined the choir of Ridley hearts that beat within the walls echoed through his ears embroidered with his mother screams. And now, Natalie wanted him, needed him, and would torture his mind with a constant throbbing pain until she added his heart to the symphony that filled the walls of Ridley House.

Staring into the dusky glow of the fading sunset, James knew that resistance was futile. He remembered his father's struggle to resist Natalie's siren call, remembered the look on his father's face as he'd surrendered to himself to the house. A tragic look of relief mingled with defeat. The house would never be satisfied until it possessed the heart of every Ridley ever born, but the house's hunger and Natalie's revenge would have to be satisfied with James, for he was the last Ridley. There would be no more sacrifices. The Ridley curse would end with him.

He felt the burden of the past reaching out, waiting to devour his wife’s peaceful existence as he burned the letter there on the beach. His tears mingled with the charred remains as he made his decision. He hated keeping secrets from Libby but he couldn', he wouldn't, tell his wife about the family legacy. Better that she thought he'd deserted her, then to know that his heart was beating in the walls of Ridley house.

He kissed Libby farewell on the front porch of their home, his arms folding her into a final embrace. A last minute business trip, he'd told her. His sadness turned to anguish as she whispered in his ear, "Hurry home, my darling, you're going to be a father."

Her words and the glowing blush on her face took his breath away. All those barren years and Libby's inconsolable sorrow at being unable to give him a child thudded through his heart. Why now, when Natalie was calling him?

Jedidiah Kramer opened the door of Ridley House. Staring hard into James’ suffering eyes he said, “You’re to have a son? Another Ridley to follow in your footsteps?”

James stepped across the threshold, the heartbeats thrumming ever louder. “A son? How did you..? I don’t know. My wife just told me she was pregnant. I’ll never know if its a boy or a girl.”

“And why wouldn’t you know?”

“Natalie. Don’t you remember? You wrote, said Natalie needed me." The thumping in his head was excruciating. “Please, let me do this. Let me give my heart to Natalie. Perhaps...” his voice drifted off.

Every generation that had come before and now one generation after. It would never end, but at least Libby wouldn’t have to know of the suffering that would visit their son, wouldn’t have to live with the knowledge of the curse bruising her heart.

“You love your wife? Trust her?”

“With all my heart.”

“Then bring her here.”

“I can’t do that. I can’t let her know the fate that will befall our child. It would kill her to know.”

“You love her enough to sacrifice your life with never a word to her about the curse that haunts Ridley House?”

“I’d rather Libby thought I abandoned her, then let her live with the curse blighting her heart.”

A shadow drifted across the wall. A flicker of light. A female voice. “A Ridley with a loving heart? I don’t believe it.”

James looked at Jedidiah who nodded.

“It doesn’t matter if you believe, Natalie,” said James. “All that matters is that I believe in my wife’s love and that she believes in mine for her and our child. I’ve come to you willingly, do what you must.”

Lifting his arms and spreading them in surrender as he’d seen his father do, James walked towards the waiting wall. His heart was pounding in his chest, his love for Libby filling him with joy, giving him the courage to merge his heart with the house.

Natalie Ridley’s ghost stepped out of the wall, her hand reaching into James’ chest. Natalie smiled as she felt his love for Libby wash over her. “One full measure of love and compassion for her who lives within.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Halloween and Writing

The first story that I remember writing was for Mrs. Smith, my sixth grade teacher. Mrs. Smith stood all of five feet tall with hair that looked like a giant cotton ball sitting on her head. She was a fearsome creature. The first day of school, she informed us that she was a witch and we'd best remember that if we wanted to survive her class. We all giggled but Mrs. Smith lived up to the reputation that she endowed herself with.

Towards the end of October our assignment was to write a story about Halloween. Mine involved ghosts and a grass skirt. Very funny stuff, if I do say so myself. As I finished reading my story out loud to the class, everyone started laughing and Mrs. Smith informed me that "I had quite an imagination." That was the nicest thing she said to me all school year.

And without knowing it, she made me believe that I could actually write, that I had an imagination that could spin stories and make people laugh. I wish I could say that I went right home and started writing, but I can't. It was nearly thirty more years before I actually started writing with an eye towards getting published. But I still credit Mrs. Smith and Halloween for planting the seed.

Tomorrow, in honor of Mrs. Smith and her encouragement, I'll post a ghost story to celebrate Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Memories and Family

Over at Ray's place and David Cranmer's they've been talking about memories and searching for their family's roots. As time slips away from me, I find myself searching through the scattered files of my memory, trying to remember who I am and where I came from.

Being a writer I've managed to write down many of those memories, finding comfort in those written words when a loved one has passed away. I have photo albums with many of the old pictures, newspaper clippings, and bits and pieces of the family trees. All there waiting for my children and grandchildren to show an interest in the past or a desire to trace their family roots.

Along with all those memories, I also found my writer self. It came with the memories of my grandfather. My grandmother and grandfather had ten children, all married with children, and every summer they gathered at grandpa's to catch up on their lives, show off the newest baby, and recall their memories.

The women usually gathered around grandma's rocking chair in the living room and gossiped about babies and husbands, but the men all sat out on the front porch to out-brag each. The women's gossip didn't interest me so I would sneak out on the porch and hide under the old cobbler's bench and listened to the uncle's voices weaving stories in the dark.

As the stars and fireflies came out to twinkle, the men lit up their cigarettes, with the red ends sparkling and smoke donuts twisting off into the air the words began to flow. Laughter filled the air as they recalled childhood exploits, fond memories of people they knew, and other family get-togethers.

Grandpa's porch was my introduction to storytelling. Voices and words weaving the past into the present reminding me that my father and uncles had been children once, too. But more than that, those words were my gift, a secret treasure that I can open and spill upon blank pages in the hopes that one day my own family will wonder about me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

The grandkids are having their first snow day of the year but there's not actually any snow on the ground yet. But those fabulous weathermen, who are the only people on earth that actually get paid for being wrong, are predicting up to six inches by this afternoon. The boys are having a sunshine day with their friends at Miss Debbie's.

Halloween is just a few short days away, so the cupboard is stocked with candy for the trick or treaters, if only the adults here can resist temptation. All that chocolate just waiting for tiny teeth. Lollipop days.

Back a few years ago I wrote a micro-flash about a chocolate induced murder, the editor I submitted the piece to said that she loved the form, but her readers wouldn't understand the concept of flash. Oh, well. Over the years, I've rewritten this story several times. Right now, it stands at 1200 words with the title "Sugar Shock" and still no one wants the damn thing. One editor telling me that no woman would allow someone to treat her that way. Ha! What does HE know about mother - daughter relationships?

Writing is so much about the world the writer lives in, the things they see, and the people they know that it's hard sometimes for readers to realize that the basics of a story can be true. That the writer's job is to take that basic truth one step beyond reality, especially in the horror and crime genres.

Am I complaining because I can't find a market for this story? Not really. Over the years I've found many stories that I've written just don't fit anywhere. But the stories are there in my head and have to be written down, if only for my own satisfaction. Rainbow days for any writer is just getting the words down. You can iron out the details later.

So, what about you? Any stories flitting through your brain looking for an escape hatch, but you know in your heart that they'll never find a home? And do you write them down or just run away from them?

Today's quote is from an anonymous donor
"Easy reading is damn hard writing."

Today's ezine
The Thrilling Detective

This is a site that deserves to be savored, while there's plenty of fiction on tap, the information about PI's, books and authors is simply amazing for a writer looking to learn about the mystery genre.

Monday, October 27, 2008

RIP Tony Hillerman

The word is spreading that one of mystery's greats has passed away. I've only read a few of Hillerman's books so I can't say I was a big fan, but I did enjoy his work. When you read Hillerman, you were walking through Navajo land and only by lifting your eyes from the page did the desert and mountains disappear and you'd blink your eyes and wonder where Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn had disappeared too.

I'll leave you with a quote from Hillerman that's in his book "Talking Mysteries". After reading this, I didn't feel so guilty about playing solitare instead of writing as my mind worked through a scene.

"Most of all, I do this creating of scenes while sprawled, apparently comatose, on an old sofa in our living room, or sitting on said sofa playing a solitaire game called Spider, which requires two decks but no imagination. Thus it is absolutely impossible to tell whether I am writing or loafing. My wife always gives me the benefit of the doubt."

Rest in peace gentle giant of mysteries.

Another One Bites the Dust

DZ Allen's flash fiction site MuzzleFlash has closed down. While there are plenty of sites that take flash fiction, very few of them actually publish crime flash. For those of us who love the form, this is a very sad day.

RIP MuzzleFlash, we loved your rude, crude, in-your-face stories.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Touching on the Senses

One of the great weaknesses in my writing is remembering to use all the senses to pull readers into my story. And the five senses? Sight, smell, taste, touch, and hear. Since I write mostly flash, I usually hit sight and hear but the others fall by the wayside. Not good if you're writing longer stories which is my goal this year.

In his book "Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing", David Morrell quotes writer John Barth about using the senses in writing. "When describing something, it's important to 'keep the senses operating.' A visual detail should be intersected with one from the other senses, auditory, for instance, so that the reader will be engaged in the scene. 'This procedure may be compared to the way surveyors and navigators determine their positions by two or more compass bearings, a process known as triangulation.'"

Sounds easy enough, doesn't it? But remembering to do it is a whole other story. Just another thing to add the long rewrite list. And sometimes you wonder, why bother? If the reader can see it in their mind, why bother adding all the other stuff? Seeing is everything, right?

And then this morning I read these two sentences written by Chandler McGrew in his book "Cold Heart".

"And then they were abruptly trapped in a cave that stank of alcohol and cigarettes and overripe hormones mixed with air-conditioning and money. Tires churned hot asphalt and fan belts screeched; the cruiser dropped again and shuddered like a dog, shaking off a cold bath."

I finished reading that paragraph and just went "WOW". Would you have described a Brinks truck shoving a police cruiser into a strip joint like that? Me neither.

For me that paragraph put using all the senses into perspective.

Those two sentences are on page six of the book, you can bet your sweet ass I'm looking forward to being swallowed alive into the pages of this book.

How about you? Read any good paragraphs that really showed you how to get the writing right?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Gift of Imagination

There's been a lot of discussion about how nobody reads anymore. That's not surprising. With TV's, computers, and assorted handheld devices, who has the time or the inclination? You actually have to sit still and engage your imagination to read. And I wonder sometimes if in our efforts to educate our children from the time they open their eyes, we haven't stolen that gift of imagination from them.

When is the last time you saw a child lying on the ground and counting elephants and castles in the clouds? Or playing in a pile of dirt and building roads and mountains? Childhood is when our imaginations take flight. Everything is new and wonderful and exciting. The senses are all engaged at hyper-speed to see how everything tastes and feels. What color is the world and what sound does it make when it breathes? Sticking a child in front of TV robs him of all that adventure.

Putting a book in a child's hand is all about his imagination. He can feel the pages, smell the ink, hear the words, and his mind can soar with those colorful characters that decorate the pages. Give a child a book and he can find his own mind. Set him in front of a TV and he's using someone else's mind to see the world.

Books put a child into another world, the world of his imagination. And what greater gift can you give a person than the gift of his own mind?

Today's quote comes from Jack London
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."

Today's zine is a flash fiction site, they're also running a contest if anyone is interested. Lots of fun horror stories in the archives from authors many of you know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The World Series

The World Series starts tonight and I'm not even sure who's playing. I could do a search and find out, but the truth is, I don't really care who's playing. I've never been a sports fan, but baseball and the series brings back some fond memories.

I remember sitting in Mr. Wagner's biology class with the series game coming through the classroom loudspeaker. Teachers could have the games piped in if they chose and the men teachers usually did. Listening to the game kept the boys on their best behavior while most of the girls were bored out of their skulls. My mom, who hated sports would be sitting in front of the TV watching the series instead of fixing supper when we got home from school. And my dad would quit work early to catch the end of the game, hoping the fifty cents he dropped in the pool would win. Somehow, baseball and the World Series in particular, brought the country together, gave us all a common bond.

Baseball used to be played during the day with the heat of the sun beating down, ice cold lemonade sweating up the sides of a mason jar, and ears pressed tight to a plastic transistor radio. Baseball and summertime, they just went together.

Back then everyone knew the players names. Hell, we had Mickey Mantle and Roger Marris playing for the Yankees, while fond memories of the Babe slapped against our ears from parents who remember the early days of baseball. And those stinking upstart Mets who actually won a series. Who would have thought?

I wonder sometimes what happened to our "love of the game" that blossomed every summer with the words "Batter up." and the sound of a ball slapping leather, cheers filling the air as hitters rounded the bases and slid home. There were church leagues, little leagues, pick-up games. Everyone played baseball. God, I miss that.

Story of the day comes from writer Kate Thornton. She's a great short story writer and whenever I come across one of her stories, I take the time to read it. And I'm never disappointed. Her story is titled "The Eyes Never Change" Here's the url

And the quote from David Morrell's "Lessons From a Lifetime of Writing"
"Don't give in to doubt. Never be discouraged if your first draft isn't what you thought it would be."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Short Stories

With this post, I'm putting my blog where my mini-rant at SMFs took me. In short ( no pun intended ) I said that writers should post links to short stories on their blogs. They should take the time to point out stories and zines and writers that blew them away in some way. It's good press for the zines and authors both.

My pick today is a short story published in Demolition, the link is for the entire archives because the stories there are all top-notch. Just scroll down, the stories are in alphabetical order by title. My pick is "The Saint of Gunners" by Todd Robinson. The story just went nowhere I expected it to, something every short story should do. As readers, just sit back and enjoy the ride. As writers, take time to study it. It's a harsh, bittersweet story that'll squeeze the breath out of you.

And a quote from Raymond Carver

"At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing - a sunset or an old shoe - in absolute and simple amazement."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fall Flash Fiction Challenge

Patti Abbott, Gerald So, and Aldo Calgagno have once again thrown down the glove and challenged us to write a flash story. A complete listing of all the stories can be found here Take the time to pop on over and read all the stories, you won't be sorry.

by Sandra Seamans

Can't any of you cops see beyond his damn suit? Bend right over and kiss his ass, why don't you? Hell, the guy's wearing a suit, he must be legit, right? Don't matter where you found him or what he's done, the man's a suit. And being a suit makes him, what? Respectable? You're forgetting that under that five hundred dollar scrap of material is a naked rich prick. A man who can kill with the same crazy hate as a redneck in flannel and jeans. Them suit boys just got more polish and all that slick just makes it easier for them to slide their way out of trouble.

And that slippery suit you just sent home? I know what he did. I was here in the parking lot playing strip and screw with a fancy three-piece of my own. Suits like them are always hanging around here at Black Jacks. Rich men looking to score with a redneck tart or maybe sample a little dark chocolate. Them rich suits like girls who know how to make a man feel good, girls who don’t have ice running through their veins like them tight-ass bitches they’re married to.

I seen that slick suit and my friend, Jilly, come staggering out of the bar just before last call. The two of them were all tongue and hands until he slammed her down on the nearest car hood. Hell, even a street whore don't want to be poked in the pussy where everyone and his neighbor's got a birds-eye view. 'Sides, a well-heeled suit like that could've sprung for a hotel room or at least used the back seat of his car.

The suit, well, he didn't like being told no. He landed a punch flush on her jaw, ripped her panties off and fucked her anyway. She was screaming, but weren't no one around to hear 'cept me and my suit, and that chicken-shit hit the highway when things turned ugly. Married suits preferring not to get caught with their pants down around their ankles when their wives ain't around.

Me? Weren't nothing I could do but call the cops. Weren't no point in both of us getting killed 'cause that fucker went crazy-ass-preacher mean. He was waving that knife through the air like it was the word of God, cursing Jilly for leading him into the hellfire of temptation. Me, I figure he walked into hell all on his own, seeing as how his engine was cooling in Black Jacks parking lot.

"Call no woman respectable til she's dead." Them's the words he kept screaming all the while he was stabbing Jilly. When her body finally quit twitching, he backed away and said, "Now, she's respectable. May God have mercy on her sinner's soul."

Me, I gotta wonder about his taste in respectable, what with poor Jilly dead and spread out like some Hustler centerfold on that car hood. Where's the respect in that? As for sinners, who's the bigger sinner here? Her what offered her body for a little friendly slap and tickle or him what took it, then killed her.

So, Mr. Cop, looking all smug and smart in your cheap suit, are you going to believe that blood splattered, deep-pockets suit? Or you gonna believe me who's telling the truth about what happened?

Yeah, bout what I expected. Shove me in your car and haul my ass off to jail. Me who didn't do nothing 'cept call the cops. I shoulda known you'd believe his lies. You damn suits always hang together. What're you gonna do now? Go tell them court house lawyers that it was just business as usual at Black Jacks. Couple of girls fighting and one got herself killed? Didn't no one see nothing.

You'd best get that notion out of your head cause there ain't no way I'm letting that prick suit get away with murdering Jilly. And just for the record, I seen that psycho greasing your palm to make his troubles disappear, and you slipping that baggie-wrapped knife into your pocket. You figuring on a little blackmail? Well, you'd best forget that bit of sideline financing cause there ain't no way I'm keeping my lips zipped just so's you can upgrade your fifty dollar Salvation Army suit to a Sears Special.

A gun, huh? Well, I guess I shoulda seen that one coming.

Peyton Place

I just finished this book a few hours ago. I closed the book and thought to myself, "No wonder." No wonder this book was banned. No wonder young girls were hiding in their closets to read this book. No wonder every small town in America referred to themselves as a little Peyton Place. No wonder people are still reading this book.

Between the pages of Peyton Place, you'll find yourself. Author, Grace Metalious, touches on every human emotion, every prejudice, every dirty little secret that a human being is capable of thinking or doing. Between the covers you'll find lust, murder, incest, drunks, and hate. But more than that, you'll find the truth. And you can't ask anything more of a book than a telling of the truths that make us human.

Now you're probably sitting there asking, "Well, I saw the movie, why should I read that old book?"

You should read the book because the movie comes nowhere close to the emotions that are portrayed in the book. The movie was about the trial, the book is about life before the trial. The very trial itself, barely exists in the pages of Peyton Place because it is a book about people, their lives and their mistakes.

What about you, what books have you read lately that really spoke about the truths of life?

A quote from the book

"...and Allison was still too young to pity the incapability of an individual to share his grief."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Embracing Rejection

Being a short story writer either toughens you or kills your love of writing. And you have to love writing in order to keep laying those words out and forming them into something someone actually wants to read. I shudder when I think of how many times I quit writing because a story I imagined was just "wonderful" was rejected by an editor. I shudder even harder when I recall those early stories.

Writers and editors have a love/hate relationship so intense that I'm surprised there aren't shooting sprees every other day at Editor Headquarters, Inc. Or sniper hits on that lonely writer sitting behind his computer screen.

When I submit a story, I fully expect it to be rejected. Odd way of looking at the submission process? No, because stories are a subjective thing. Maybe the editor sliced his hand while sawing his frozen bagel in half and had to get a dozen stitches, then he reads your story about the crazed killer with a butcher knife. He's probably not in the mood to keep reading about blood gushing from a severed artery. Now if your story was about the frozen bagel maker getting his, he might just bite. Getting the right story in the right place at the right time is just a matter of pure luck. Rejection is not personal.

Personally, I enjoy getting rejection letters. No, not those impersonal form letters, but the ones where an editor takes the time to explain what you're doing wrong and why your story isn't a fit for their magazine. That's how I, as a writer, learn how to improve my craft.

The best rejection I received was from a guest editor at Hardluck Stories. It was my first time submitting to Hardluck and when the story was rejected I asked Dave Zeltserman if he could tell my why. The story was one of my first attempts with "noir" writing and I didn't know if I'd failed to hit that noir mark or if the writing just plain sucked. Dave was kind enough to pass my request on to his guest editor, Trey Barker.

I expected a note saying that the story sucked. What I got was an in depth critique of the story. What worked, what didn't, and why. And the best piece of advice I ever got about writing was contained in that letter from Mr. Barker. He said that I had to learn to trust my writer's instincts. He pointed out places where I knew the story line wasn't quite right and had tried to fix it in the ending. Such a simple piece of advice and all contained in a rejection letter.

So embrace your rejections and learn from them. Throwing in the towel because one editor didn't like your story won't get the next one written or accepted.

Today's quote comes from B. Spock
"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Sad News

Word is spreading across the 'net that editor Bryon Quertermous is closing his ezine "Demolition". This is sad news indeed following as it does on the news last month that editor BJ Bourg was closing "Mouth Full of Bullets".

I'm proud to admit that I had stories accepted to both of these fine magazines and that both BJ and Bryon were wonderful to work with. Their zines will be missed.

The archives for both zines will remain up for a while, so do yourself a favor and check out some of the great short stories that have been published between their virtual covers. You'll be glad you did!

Just a quick addition. Nathan Cain over at the Independent Crime blog just reminded me that editor Dave Zeltserman also closed "Hardluck Stories" this year.

Oh yes, and "Murdaland"

The crime fiction short story market is really shrinking.

Winter Preparations

The garden's pretty well done, there's corn, broccoli and cauliflower in the freezer, beans and tomatoes canned, and potatoes dug and stored in the cellar. I've made a batch each of peach and plum jam. The wild blackberries are picked and frozen to make pies this coming winter. There's just a few pumpkins and carrots to be taken care of and summer's harvest will be finished. Put up to be enjoyed during the long winter months.

But the garden wasn't the only thing harvested for the coming winter. I've got books!! Our local historical society has four used booksales a year to raise money for their various projects. And I hit every one this summer. For the price of one brand spanking new hardcover, I've gathered together over fifty books to be savored this winter.

I know, I know, used book sales cut into author's profits. But living on the back side of nowhere where the only bookstore is a Christian bookstore fifty miles away and a library that caters to the cozy cat and crafts readers, the booksale is my lifeline to the darkside of the mystery world.

Being a short story writer, I was thrilled to find and purchase eight mystery anthologies. On the non-fiction side for fifty cents I scored a copy of "Murder Ink" by Dilys Winn and another fifty scored a biography of Arthur Conan Doyle by Daniel Stashower.

I now have the complete Kidd series by Sandford, a few Michael Connelly's, two Patrick and Angie books by Lehane and books by newer authors that I've never or just vaguely heard of. But the biggest finds were the old books that I found. And such treasures.

Three of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books, two James Ellroy PI novels that I never heard of
"Because the Night" and "Clandestine", Willeford's "Miami Blues", and Estelman's "Sugar-Town" and Lawrence Block's "A Walk Among the Tombstones". All authors I've never read and look forward to. I found a Robert Randisi book "No Exit from Brooklyn" and Ed Gorman's "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" both excellent books and highly recommended. I found a double PI book by Carter Brown. I'd never heard of him but the titles sound luscious, "The Ice-Cold Nude" and "Lover Don't Come Back". So I'm well-stocked in the PI genre.

Since James Reasoner and David Cranmer are always discussing Westerns on their blogs, I even grabbed a couple of them. "The Day the Cowboys Quit" by Elmer Kelton and "One Man Posse" by Max Brand.

On the noir side of the mystery genre I found Harry Crew's "Scar Lover" and a triple treat in one book of James M. Cain that include "Career in C Major", "The Embezzler" and "Double Indemnity"

There are many more, but I've probably bored you to death by now. So what have you stockpiled to get you through the winter?

Today's quote comes courtesy of Harry Crews

"You have to go to considerable trouble to live differently from the way the world wants you to live. That's what I've discovered about writing. The world doesn't want you to do a damn thing. If you wait till you got time to write a novel or time to write a story or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read - if you wait for the time, you'll never do it. Cause there ain't no time; world don't want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fumbling Around

Starting blogging is a curious feeling. You stare at the screen and wonder what the hell you're going to write about. Are you interesting enough for anyone to even want to read your thoughts? Will anyone even care enough to comment?

I guess this post is about fumbling around in the blog dark. Too stubborn to turn on the light, so you stub your toe, then find yourself hopping around the room, falling over that pair of shoes you left in the middle of the floor and generally making a complete fool of yourself. So please be patient with me as I find my way.

I hope to post some links to blogs I enjoy reading. Photos are pretty much out for the time being. Something else I'll have to learn. Yeah, I'm not very computer savvy, so building this blog will be a slow process. Hopefully readers will bear with me.

My hope for this blog is that it will be helpful. I love to read and will share my thoughts on books and short stories. My passion is writing, so I'll try to share some of my struggles, a few markets, a few stories and perhaps you, good reader will do the same.

And I'll leave you with a quote from "Dirty" Harry Callahan that pretty much sums up this post:

"A man has got to know his limitations."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Well, I'm Here

Okay, so I've finally surrendered to the world of blogs. Welcome to my little corner of the world, pull up a chair, get comfortable, and let's see if we can find something to talk about.