What Are You Waiting For?

What’s the matter, writer? That blank page in front of you got you down?

You say your bucket of creative motivation is empty? You fear the procrastination monster has come to stay? And the writer’s block is too big to overcome so you’re waiting for the magic writing fairy to land on your shoulder and deliver perfect pages of prose, sublime sonnets, or perhaps inspirational ideas?

Well, get over it. It isn’t going to happen.

Here’s a newsflash:  Your dreamy muse is busy elsewhere with a happy rainbow unicorn in a field of delicious, colorful jelly beans under a marshmallow sky and not likely to return anytime soon.

In the meantime, here’s a word of advice, a solution to your problem:  write.

Writing Tips

 

“Bad writing precedes good writing. This is an infallible rule, so don’t waste time trying to avoid bad writing. (That just slows down the process.) Anything committed to paper can be changed. The idea is to start and go from there.” –Janet Hulstrand

 

“Self-doubt, exhaustion, and confusion are part of the process. Embrace them and don’t stop writing to examine what you have. The world is full of people trying to perfect chapter one.” –Kerry Greenwood

 

“If you are struggling with writing a character, write 20 things a reader will never know about your character. These will naturally bleed into your writing and provide a richness even though you don’t share the detail.” –Barbara Poelle

Shameless Plug: Seasonal Book Promo

It’s that time of year for special gift-giving around my neck of the woods (so to speak) and as it is in many other places. And what better gift than a book or two?

Here are two books for your perusal. I hope you’ll consider them for this holiday season or for any gift-giving occasion.

“Storytellin: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas”. A collection of mixed-genre stories set in Arkansas from the early 1900s to the 1950s. Each of the fictional stories is preceded by a Cotner family story or event that inspired the fictional tales. Set against the rugged backdrop of the Ouachita Mountains these stories bring ageless tales of hope, fear, laughter, retribution, and kindness.

“Mystery Of The Death Hearth”. A Celtic tale of murder, power, and intrigue. In a far-flung outpost of the Roman Empire, the Great Cross—made of Celtic gold and amber now claimed by the Roman church—goes missing along with a fortune in coins and precious gems. Murder soon follows, igniting tensions when church leaders maneuvering for political gain are implicated in the violent plot. When news reaches the Grand Prefect in Rome, Enforcers are sent to identify the thieves and recover the missing treasure. The trail leads to the Brendan Valley where it falls to deputy magistrate Weylyn de Gort to work with those whose ways are alien to his Elder Faith beliefs. Along the way, he must find an elusive young Celt girl and her missing grandfather, unravel the mystery of an Elder’s vision, and avoid death at the hands of an assassin as he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

Mystery Of The Death Hearth Prologue

June 21st in the Roman calendar

Summer Solstice

“This sacred site has been here longer than we can remember,” Elder Blaine the Slender told the small group of children clustered around him. They were surrounded by festival vendors in tents bearing colorful flags, all part of the crowd gathered there to celebrate the Solstice holiday. “Heed these stories well, so you may pass them to those who will come after you.”

He saw them nod, some smiling, many somber, all attentive.

“Learn your crafts well, listen to your elders, honor the gods, and respect the land. Enjoy the life you have been granted and help others do the same. No other goals should be attempted lest you fall into the evil snare of greed and dishonesty.”

A small voice whispered, “He means the Romans, right?”

“Not just Romans, young one. Celts, too, face dark temptations. The two worst enemies we all face are liars and thieves,” the Elder continued. “Take nothing that isn’t yours. Honor the code of doing what you will so long as you harm no one or their possessions. Have compassion for those less fortunate, help those in need. Follow the path of our Celtic Elder Faith, stay true to its teachings. You will be wise to–”

Blaine’s words were interrupted by heavy beating of drums and cheers from celebrants within the inner circle of the standing stones. Before Blaine could continue, a child spoke up.

“What about murderers, Elder? Aren’t they an enemy, too?”

Elder Blaine nodded. “Truly spoken young one. Murderers are the worst kind of thief. They steal your life.”

 

 

 

 

Write Something Every Week

It is no secret one of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury. He penned and published some wonderfully interesting work including ‘Illustrated Man’, ‘Dandelion Wine’, ‘The Martian Chronicles’, ‘Fahrenheit 451’, ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’, and so many more.

He also left us with some inspiring and often amusing sayings. Here’s one of my favorites:

52storiesRayBradbury

From The World Of I Wish I’d Written That

“It wasn’t the first time he’d died, but it was the first time he’d been murdered.”

That was the winning opening line in the category of ‘Best First Sentence In A Book” at ThrillerFest this month (July 2016) in New York. It was written by Sheila English, a writer of supernatural suspense, science fiction, non-fiction, and young adult.

Congratulations, Sheila!

Book Review: 1177 B.C .

1177BC

1177 B.C. The Year Civilization Collapsed by Eric H. Cline

I enjoy history and found this book a fascinating and educational read. The work is a quest to identify the forces responsible for the demise of the Bronze Age ‘civilizations’ of Egypt and its immediate neighbors. It is written in an easy to understand style with relevant footnotes, an extensive bibliography, chapter notes with comments, and a reference called “Dramatis Personae” listing the chronology of the major rulers and related personnel of the region beginning with Adad-nirari I (ruled 1307-1275 B.C.) to Zimri-Lim (ruled 1776-1758 B.C.).

Cline’s presentation is scholarly and focused exclusively on the blending of literary and archaeological evidence of eastern Mediterranean, Aegean, and Middle-Eastern (or Near East) regions of the Late Bronze Age, most notably the interactions and conflicts between Egyptian and Hittite empires, the Mycenaean civilization, and the elusive and hard to define Sea Peoples.

Inscriptions and regional letters from individuals, rulers, and emissaries presented in this work were a fascinating read providing insight into the thinking of the time and, for me, reinforce the common notion that ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same.’ It also stretches the definitions of what I would call ‘civilization’ and ‘civilized behavior.’ For instance, take this inscription from the pharaoh Kamose (17th Dynasty of Egypt) writing in 1550 BC about his victory over the Hyksos whom he calls “Asiatics:”

“I sailed north in my might to repel the Asiatics…with my brave army before me like a flame of fire and the…archers atop our fighting-tops to destroy their places…I passed the night in my ship, my heart happy; and when day dawned I was upon him as if it were a hawk. When breakfast time came, I overthrew him having destroyed his walls and slaughtered his people, and made his wife descend to the riverbank. My army acted like lions with their spoil…chattles, cattle, fat, honey…dividing their things, their hearts joyful.”

Cline’s thoughts on what, exactly, brought about the collapse of Bronze Age civilizations in his region of interest are based on facts gathered from the many scientific and literary research disciplines studying the region examining many factors including but not limited to earthquakes, droughts, disease, fire, warfare against invading Sea People, local insurrections, and changing economic considerations. He writes: “In my opinion, none of these individual factors would have been cataclysmic enough on their own to bring down even one of these civilizations, let alone all of them. However, they could have combined to produce a scenario in which the repercussions of each factor were magnified, in what some scholars have called a ‘multiplier effect.’ … The ensuing ‘systems collapse’ could have led to the disintegration of one society after another, in part because of the fragmentation of the global economy and the breakdown of the interconnections upon which each civilization was dependent.”

The presentation of the ‘multiplier effect’ and ‘systems collapse’ is a compelling argument for the eventual end of the Late Bronze Age in this region but one issue stands out for me as wrong. Though the work is a highly detailed, fascinating historical presentation, I find Cline’s assertion that the destruction of the regional civilizations covered in this work was somehow the result of the collapse of a ‘globalized’ society and ‘globalized’ markets that over a period time marked the end of the Late Bronze Age a bit off the mark. I would not normally quibble over such an issue but this incorrect terminology appears to be used solely to manufacture a direct correlation of those Late Bronze Age circumstances with today’s world; and, in doing so, somehow serve as an apocalyptic warning to our current, truly globalized market and intertwined global society. But Cline’s presentation focuses solely on a specific region. Therefore, Cline’s ‘globalization’ is actually ‘regionalization.’

In reality, the only consistent common denominator I could find between the collapse of ‘civilization’ in Cline’s Bronze Age stories and the drama of the world we live in today is they have humans serving as both the protagonist and antagonist in the drama that is human history, Bronze Age or otherwise.

I suppose Cline can be forgiven for attempting to draw parallels between then and now in an optimistic belief that somehow we can save ourselves from the same forces of destruction that ended the Late Bronze Age. Sadly, the most relevant similarity between the collapse of those “civilizations” and our current world is both were/are populated by humans and we do not have a good track record when it comes to learning from history.

Nevertheless, I found this book an intriguing read and a welcome addition to my library.