Saturday, May 28, 2022

The Great Summer Writing Season

Scott D. Parker

Here in the United States, summer officially begins on Monday. Memorial Day. It ends 97 days later on Labor Day, 5 September.  I know it is a great time to travel, watch summer blockbuster movies (by the time this is posted, I’ll have already seen Top Gun: Maverick), catch up on some TV, sit on the patio or beach or dock and sip something cold, and just enjoy the summer vibe.

But it can also be used to write.

Think of it: perfect bookends. There is a beginning and an end. There are 97 days of summer if you don’t include either holiday but do count weekends. If you were to write up to 1,000 words per day, more or less an hour, you’d have a novel.

Okay, you say, what about weekends? There are 28 Saturdays and Sundays this summer. Doing the math, that is 69 weekdays. At 1,000 words a day, that 69,000 words, still a novel.

But let’s say you don’t reach 1,000 words a day. What if you only spend 30 minutes a day and produce 500 words? That’s 48,500 words, a nice short novel. If you take out the weekends, that brings you down to 34,500 words, still very respectable.

And I’m only thinking novels here. Imagine if you wrote a short story per week. That’s 14 new short stories.

This is just to get you thinking about continuing your writing during what Dean Wesley Smith calls the Time of Great Forgetting, when your New Year’s Day resolutions to write more are ignored. You can do this. Just start on Monday and keep going.

I’ll be finishing up a novel rather than starting a new one. And I’ll also be preparing for the Great Departure: my son will be moving out and continuing his college coursework. Sigh. It is time. It is supposed to happen, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

The writing part is, however, pretty straightforward. Just sit and write. Keep at it long enough and you’ll reach those magical words: The End. And summer is a great time to keep that habit going.  

Side Note: Namedropped

It’s not every day when a famous author reads a post and responds.

I always read Max Allan Collins’s blog so imagine my surprise when I saw my own name. It seems he read and responded to my post from last week regarding Legacy Authors and That Last Book. I nearly swallowed my coffee down the wrong pipe when I saw it. He provided some extra examples to address the question I posed. How cool is that?

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Jerry Bloomfield collection

By Jerry Bloomfield

Hello, everybody. And thanks to Steve Weddle for giving me a chance to do this. Some of you may know or maybe seen my name. I’m Jerry Bloomfield, originally from Kentucky now living on the east coast of Canada. I come from one land of storytellers and now live in a different one and it’s something I have been doing myself for about as long as I can remember.

And having those stories published for ten years now. Which is amazing to me. Growing up scribbling in notebooks then filling floppy disks, somehow, I never quite thought other people would read my stuff or even want to. I knew what an author was, of course, saw the names on the books, the little bio in the back, but that I could do that, be that? It just never quite occurred to me. And now here we are, ten years since I was first published, since someone other than me read something I wrote and thought other people would want to as well. Ten years of improvement, each story better than the last, each one letting me stretch and learn.

Home Is… and Other Stories is a collection of those years, that early stuff put out just as it was originally published, an author’s career up to the present day. Stories that come from a lifetime of hearing and reading stories from every type, and, when it comes to fishing, even creative nonfiction. These are stories that range from a weird Wild West to intergalactic bounty hunters and people on earth just doing the best they can. Stories that will make you cry, make you think, and maybe change your view of the world. From a man who lost everything, including his compassion, to a young man who discovered that sometimes the friends that really have your back are the ones you least expect. That charming boat captain who will drop you without a thought if the price is right.

"Home Is…," the title story of the collection, is a story I’m really proud of, for a number of reasons. We all know the hate that LGBTQ+ people around the world are subjected to, and its also something that I’m particularly sensitive to as a queer man from Kentucky. And the way it can hits when its your own family, can be a particular kind of hell. This story is one response to that. The whole thing started with the idea ‘they say you can’t go home again. But sometimes you have to.’ And so I had to find out why. Protecting people, reaching out to help, those are pretty damn good reasons. What happens when people can’t be who they are? Who have to hide parts of themselves from even family? And what happens when they see that pattern starting all over again? It can get better, but we have to make it happen.

The good ol' crime stuff is here too. "Rum Runners" is a gangster/bootlegger story, drawn partly from the Maritime region of Canada I now live in and a long time love for mobster stories. "Stray Bullet" asks what happens when you take everything away from a man and nobody cares? Are you one of the browncoats still mad that Firefly was cancelled? Take a look at "Bounty."

You can find it on the kindle machines here and if you prefer, you can get the PDF over at Ko-fi to read on your favourite device. All my thanks to those who have already bought it and to those who may, and I hope everyone enjoyed the trip as much as I did.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

We Are Sick, And the Mercury is Rising

By Paul J. Garth

Today, I was planning on talking about my book that comes out in a week. 

I had this whole thing written, how I came to write the book, my fears about taking on the project, the writing process itself, my feelings on the final version, and how the whole process had a purging quality. 

But now... no. 

In the face of horror, it doesn't feel like any of that really fucking matters, does it? 

Part of me feels like I need to say something profound, something to make the pain of this, if not manageable, than at least understandable. Isn't that our job as writers? But I've got nothing. 

All I have is the fact that I'm scared and horrified and sad and angry. 

Angry beyond fucking words. 

That this has happened again. 

That our decaying country has let this happen again. 

That it seems to insist, in deeds if not words, that this should happen again. Over and over and over.

Part of me didn't even want to write this much. 

I know someone is going to come at me and accuse me of making this real life horror Political. But that's bullshit. 

Making something Political implies that the topic is divisive. 

But, friends, if you think the phrase "Grade Schoolers have a right not to be shot to death in their fucking classroom" is divisive, you and I are on very different trajectories. And it's probably best we go our separate ways. 

Something needs to change in this country. 

We are sick, and the mercury is rising. 

Will we be able to reverse course? 



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Delhi Crime

On someone's recommendation, I recently watched the seven-part series Dehli Crime on Netflix.  It's a police procedural, shot and set in Dehli, based on the real-life 2012 Dehli gang rape and murder case. That was the case in which a young woman, out at night with a male friend of hers after they had seen a movie, was raped, beaten and tortured by six men in the back of a bus in southwestern Dehli.  Her boyfriend was beaten as well, though not nearly as badly as she was, and the assailants threw the couple off the bus and left both for dead at the side of the road.  Someone discovered them there and alerted the police. The series begins in the immediate aftermath of the crime and follows the police work that led, somewhat remarkably, to the quick arrest -- within six days -- of all the assailants. It also shows the social fallout from the case.  There is much public anger, protests against the police and their failure to protect women from the ongoing horror of gang rapes.  And there is a freewheeling media that stokes the outrage people feel and that eggs on the backlash against a police force widely considered inept and incompetent. At the same time, while the police do their work, there is political maneuvering behind the scenes, as some in government for their own ends angle to overhaul certain command structures within the police force.  

Show writer and director Richie Mehta got the idea to do the series from a conversation he had with the former Commissioner of the Dehli Police, Neeraj Kumar.  And it's clear that everything was done to get as much authenticity as possible into the shoot.  The lead investigator, played by actress Shefali Shah, is based on a former deputy commissioner of police in Dehli named Chhaya Sharma, with whom Shah worked a lot in preparation.  Her character leads a team comprised mainly of men but also of a couple of key women investigators, and how the police do their jobs and live their lives here is something I found quite interesting.  They hardly live lives like the police in the United States. The Indian police are underpaid, have no union, work atrociously long hours and get no overtime, and the resources they have, under normal circumstances, are pretty limited.  As part of the backdrop of the show as well, as I just mentioned, is the general low esteem in which the police seem to be held in Dehli, huge city that it is.  Even a magistrate Shah's character, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, goes before, says quite casually that the police, when bothering to do their jobs at all, probably spend a good bit of time in places like five-star hotels. When, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  The police as seen here, at least this group working on this case, really are city servants doing their best under trying circumstances.  When was the last time in a police show, you saw the spouse of an officer bring food to the station so that 1) they have an excuse to actually see their overworked partner who's been sleeping for days at the station and 2) their partner can get a nice home-cooked meal instead of whatever the cops can manage to scrounge together on their unending shift at the station? 

One thing the police here don't have to contend with much, apparently -- guns.  It's eyeopening and somewhat startling to see the police lead rape suspects by the hand, no cuffs anywhere, once they have them in custody. At one point, a female officer, in her plain clothes attire, leads one of the rapists in just this way as she moves him from one location to another, her hand around his wrist.  There is maybe one male police officer with them, by the assailant's other shoulder, and that's it.  While the general public holds little regard for the police force, those caught, at least here, show fear and deference to the authorities once caught.  

I shouldn't end this without saying that as grim as the central crime here is, Dehli Crime is in no way a slog.  It's serious and intense but unfolds also, with its rich panoply of characters and personalities, with a good bit of quiet humor. I found it enthralling and I was glad to read that the series will be back, with the same cast, for a second season.


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Visit Your Local Library

By Claire Booth

Yesterday I got to participate in a Volunteer Appreciation Tea at a local library branch. The event was to thank a group of people who remained dedicated to the library even through the pandemic—masking and gloving up to come inside the building and put returned books in quarantine, bag novels for curbside delivery, and always, always stay six feet apart. 

So I was delighted to come say thank you in person. I was there with fellow author Cindy Fazzi, whose historical fiction novel plucks a Filipino woman named Isabel Rosario Cooper from obscurity and tells the true story of her affair with General Douglas MacArthur. It was a great pairing; we got to contrast historical and contemporary fiction and compare our writing experiences. And we got to talk about all different genres with other people who love books and drink out of fancy china tea cups, so it really was the perfect afternoon.

If you’re an author, one of the best things you can do is reach out to your local libraries. They’re great resources for research, can connect you with other local authors, tell you about community events and give you the means to keep your addiction to reading going strong by cheerfully renewing your library card.

So stop in and introduce yourself. I promise, you’ll make a new friend (hi, Lisa and Thom!).