Saturday, July 26, 2008

Updates and Blessings

I found out from Lisa that Hubert Selby Jr. died in 2004. (His supposedly official website didn’t indicate this.) This means that I can tell everyone that the book I so soundly criticized in my last post, “Breaking all the Rules,” was Requiem for a Dream by Selby. I went to Amazon to look at his other famous book, Last Exit to Brooklyn and it’s written in the same style. I won’t be reading it. I’m still trying to get the taste of “Requiem” out of my mouth. *gag*

In publishing news, Bits of the Dead, a zombie anthology of mostly short short stories is out. I have not seen a copy or even the table of contents yet, but it’s listed on Barnes and Noble, as indicated, and also at Amazon. I have a story in it called “Once Upon a Time with the Dead,” a zombie western. I’ll give more information as I get it.

Finally, I was at CrazyCath’s Reflections today and her post really struck home with me. She posted about her blessings, an idea that she also found elsewhere on the web. But it struck me that I haven’t done enough of this, and I have been so blessed that I should take a moment to acknowledge those blessings.

First, let me say how thankful I am for my family, especially my wonderful mom, who is still kicking it at 91. Mom sacrificed so much for me, encouraged me to do the things that made me happy, and, primarily, just loved me. Also, thanks for Ray, who has made my mom happy and taken care of her for many years now, and for my brothers, Jimmy, Raymond, and Paul David, and their wives (Alice, Joyce, Rita) and all their many, many children. (I’d list you all but I don’t have time to write another huge novel right now.) My family, of course, includes my son Joshua, who is just a great kid (not a kid anymore at 21). Josh has made so many hard days worth living. And, of course, there is Lana, who I found late but who is just the perfect woman for me, even more than Rannon is for Ruenn. In memoriam, there is my sister, Dolores, who sure helped along my reading habit, and all her children. And Roger, who loved her for so many years. I used to be scared of Roger when I was a kid, but he had great books so I had to come around. Now I know he’s really a pussycat.

I’ve been blessed, too, with many friends, especially my colleagues at Xavier University, who helped teach me how to survive and who have supported me in my endeavors. And for my newer friends here in the blogosphere, who have given me such wonderful support over the last few years. I have to mention the great writing groups I’ve been part of. Thanks to all the members past and present who have read my junk and helped make it better, or who have just taught me things about writing. This includes, of course, Sphinx Ink, C. S. Harris and David Lanoue here in the blogosphere.

I’ve been blessed because, although I work hard at my job and sometimes complain about how much dedication it takes, I still love what I do and it has provided me with the money and the time (on occasion) to do other things I also love, like collect books, read, and write. And eat.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to write and find publishers for most of what I’ve written. Sure, I wish I’d had some bigger publishers for some things, and made more money, but the true joy has been in writing them and in finding out that some folks like what I’ve written and even tell others about it. Along the way in the publishing world I’ve met so many great folks who have helped me out and given me breaks. There are far too many to mention them all, but thanks to you all. Special appreciation for folks like Michael Burgess, Charles Nuetzel, and J. Bruce Fuller, who’ve been involved in accepting/ publishing my books, and to Lana again for her tireless promotion of my work.

As I look out my window, good books by my side, cold Michelob and chicken wings in the refrigerator, Ozzy on the CD player, Lana hovering around the house looking all sessy, birds feeding in the yard, trees on three sides, knowing I’m still off work for a couple more weeks, I realize I’ve got it pretty damn good. I am blessed, and I appreciate it.


Rick said...

I woke up yesterday with swollen eyes (now down from Marty Feldman look-alike status), a story to re-write, a blog to write, a car to repair, and a host of other things to complain about, but after reading this post I am forgetting all that and going to visit my mother. No lie, this post actually turned around my entire attitude today.

Thank you, Mr. Gramlich!

PS, that last posting of yours about "literary" writers getting away with ignoring the "rules," was brilliant and I'm glad to hear someone finally deal with the issue head on.

BernardL said...

Amen to counting blessings, Charles. :)

Greg said...

Glad you've got a lot going for you, Charles. I've also been blessed, and definitely don't appreciate it as much as I should.

I've heard of Requiem of a Dream... can't say what it's about, but I know I've heard people talk about how good it is. Now I wonder about them.

Sphinx Ink said...

This is touching, and a great reminder to focus on the good things in our lives instead of griping about the negatives. Keeping a positive attitude makes for so much happier a life. Thanks, Charles. And you're welcome for any insight or ideas my comments may have given you. I'm so pleased to be associated with such a talented writer and great guy as you.

I do have one question: You used the term "sessy" in this entry and in one from earlier in the week. I can't quite figure out from the context what that means. Is it the same as "sassy"?

writtenwyrdd said...

Lovely thoughts, Charles! Of all the blessings, I envy others' blessings of family ties. I have my brother and mother, but the rest of the family either ignores or literally shuns us for various religious and post-divorce snobbery reasons. I wish I had that kind of close-knit, extended family, too.

After reading this post, I shall consider the wonderful gifts and opportunities my life has given me. I doubt I'll blog about it, but it is good to be reminded just how great we really have it.

laughingwolf said...

thx for the tips and who to avoid, book wise, charles...

yeah, you have amazing framily/friends, blessings to all!

you can bet i'll remain an avid reader of your stuff... how's 'wraith' coming?

Steve Malley said...

Damn straight. Every word. :-)

Sidney said...

Good thoughts. I'm blessed and sometimes I don't realize it.

L.A. Mitchell said...

It's always great to be reminded of the bigger picture. Thanks, C.

Stewart Sternberg (half of L.P. Styles) said...

Yeah. It's good to have that moment of appreciation and peace. Everyone needs a certain sense of awareness. Mine comes in the middle of the night when I wonder if I just had a nightmare or if I'm being stalked by death with only moments to live. Takes all kinds, don't it?

Barbara Martin said...

Counting one's blessings is necessary day to day.

Charles Gramlich said...

Vwriter, glad to hear it. CrazyCath’s post did much the same for me. Made me step back and take a look at the good things around me.

Bernardl, definitely so.

Greg Schwartz, I’ve heard the movie version of “Requiem” is powerful, but I haven’t seen it. I can see how it might be better because you could “see” the people talking and wouldn’t have a problem knowing who was speaking. Plus you wouldn’t be seeing the constant awkward dialect and punctuation.

Sphinx Ink, thank you for the compliment. Sessy is kind of a combination between sexy and sassy. Part of CharLana speak.

Writtenwyrdd, I’m always saddened when I hear of families that don’t get along. I find it’s usually for reasons that don’t make much of a hill of beans in the greater world. I hope someday that clears up for you.

Laughingwolf, I’m at around 60 pages on “Wraith.” Haven’t made as much progress as I’d like here lately.

Steve Malley, exactamundo.

Sidney, I often fail to realize it. I guess I’m one of those folks that sees the negatives too often. But not today.

L. A. Mitchell, yes, it is. It certainly is.

Stewart Sternberg, and you are definitely “all” kinds, my friend. LOL.

Barbara Martin, I try to. I need to keep it mind.

Barrie said...

I love this post! It's nice getting to know a whole other side of you.

Lisa said...

Life is pretty good.

the walking man said...

Best to count while one can still remember what we are counting eh?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Congrats on the the story coming out in the new anthology, Bits of the Dead. Zombie western, eh ... sounds very interesting.

Just finished Robert E. Howard's amazing novella, "Skull Face." Wow, an incredible mixture of great pulp, a touch of Sherlock Holmes, a good dose of Sax Rohmer and even a couple of tips of the hat to HPL. Very satisfying.

And thanks for reminding us all to stay grounded in the real ...

Don at Lilliput

Chris Eldin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Eldin said...

(I just deleted the last post and was going to add more, but kids just woke up.)

We need these posts more often--
I agree with you about remembering the good things you have in your life. There are many, if you sit and think about them. And to me you captured the most important ones--family and close friends in your life. I've seen life from dirt, dirt poverty in my childhood to the wealthy businessmen my husband deals with in his job. It's the people around us who keep us grounded and give us a reason to enjoy life (if they are good-hearted people).

I especially love your last paragraph. Is 'sessy' a word? LOVE it!!!


laughingwolf said...

you have been super busy, so understandable in the writing department... but you will win!

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Congrats on the story in the anthology! If I'm anything close to being financially solvent, I'll get a copy. Zombie western sounds fun!

Donnetta said...

So nice to see someone counting his blessings. Of course, all your readers are just as blessed to know you, too! Hey, life is worth living. And you're doing a great job!

Anndi said...

We have something in common... finding that special love later in life makes you really appreciate it, doesn't it?

Wonderful post that made me smile. Thanks Charles!

Charles Gramlich said...

Barrie, I'm glad you liked it.

Lisa, yes it is.

Mark, Absolutely. And to remember the great moments when the tough ones come again. AS they always do.

Don's Untidy, thanks. I'm glad to get that story out there. yeah, Skull face is definitly interesting. Howard tried at various times to crack new markets by writing stories that were suited to those markets, like this one for the Fu Manchu type crowd, but he could never keep from throwing his own great style into it, creating sometimes fascinating amalgams like Skull Face.

Chris Eldin, sessy is a word Lana and I use as code. It's kind of a mixture of sexy and sassy.

Laughingwolf, thankee. I hope so.

Rachel, I've been financially solvent for a while now. It's very nice, and a big change from certain times in my life.

Donnetta, thanks. Yes, life is definitely pretty good right now.

Anndi, I never would have imagined it could happen until it did.

Travis Cody said...

Is it presumptuous to add my thanks for your blessings? If it is, so be it and I'll tell you why.

I finished Swords of Talera yesterday and loved it. So I'm thankful for the things that put you in a place where you could create Ruenn Maclang and a cool world like Talera.

I'm also thankful for blogging, and that I can say I "know" the author of a book I so enjoyed.

I'll start Wings Over Talera shortly. But here's an odd thing about my copy...the side binding has the book title Swords of Talera instead of the correct title. Weird eh? Or were you aware of some mis-printings already?

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for a smile and a reminder to savor my blessings.

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

This is a really sweet post! Despite my gentle disagreement about Hubert S (although I don't think I could watch the movie version of Last Exit To Brooklyn ever ever again), I agree with it all. I also feel very blessed and happy with life -- despite all the complications, meltdowns, malaise, and ennui, I find myself happy to be alive and healthy almost all the time when I slow down enough to see it. And I have the most wonderful friends in the world. That's something a lot of people say, but in my case, it's totally true.

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis, you made my day. Now I'll be thankful for that blessing. ;) I know about the weird side panel thing and sent that news to the publisher. It is supposed to have been corrected but I will have to send them a reminder. I don't know if they did print up some copies ahead of time, or if it's still being produced like that. I'll try to find out. Thanks very much for your kind words. I'm glad you liked it.

Shauna, no problem. I was glad of the reminder myself.

Michelle, we academics sometimes forget that we've got pretty good jobs, although certainly they are stressful at times. I'll forgive you for liking Hubert S. I won't understand it because I think you are a much better literary writer, but I won't hold a grudge. Lol :)

Steve Stubbs said...

I don't know who Hubert Selby Jr. is, but if you dissed him in a review and he died and I ever get back to writing again and find a publisher again (it's been more than 20 years) - PUH-LEE-UZ don't review it.

I like living.

As for counting blessings, you are right. Several years ago I started giving thanks from moment to moment if I noticed some small miracle in my life, or if some little thing went well that used to go badly. Since then I have never lost anything (my entire life was a lost and found at one time), things seem to go well almost all the time, and especially I do not fall when walking on wretched sidewalks anymore. I used to trip all the time and skin knees, hands, and other appendages on the way down, not to mention tearing holes in my pants skidding on rough pavement. Something called the unconscious mind starts really working for us when we express appreciation for the things it does for us. I give thanks for my health as well, and never get sick anymore. If I had not tried it I would not believe the benefits that come from it.

I checked my movie collection and I have the DVD of REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, mainly because I like Jennifer Connelly. If the book is as bad as the movie, you are right. IT SUCKS!

JR's Thumbprints said...

Hey Man, You're living the life. Nice shout out for those around you. Keep truckin'.

Charles Gramlich said...

Steve Stubbs, you're probably safe. Turns out he died almost 4 years before I dissed him. But then, it's possible that time isn't as linear as we think. I've noticed too, that as I start being more thankful about things more good things happen. It's pretty nice. Thanks for stopping by.

JR. It keeps meat on my bones. I'm enjoying.

Jennifer Macaire said...

Thank you for reminding us that counting one's blessings is an uplifting and important part of life!


Bernita said...

Right on, Charles!
And such a counter/ relief from the whining/gloom we sometimes endure on blogs.

Middle Ditch said...

Great post Charles. Yes, I count my blessings many times. I can see, hear, speak, write, feel, touch etc.

I also at times sit down and think of those no longer with us. Lets not forget.

On another note, do you know what happened to Julie at virtual voyage? She has, after changing sites, completely disappeared. I do worry when that happens.


J. L. Krueger said...

Great thoughts Charles. We seem to take the most important things for granted sometimes. We complain about things that really don't matter and forget that family and friends are what really counts.

Great post.

ivan said...


Well, it's nice to get that Good as Gramlich feeling.

I was on the street five years ago and am now fairly comfortable, especially after writing about being down and out and getting it published. The ink helped me to rise out of it.
Saw one of my old buddies sleeping in a grocery cart on Main Street.
"Heh," I said to myself. "Does my bum look too big?"
He was actually quite small.
Gave him my last twenty and felt damn good.

Charles Gramlich said...

Jennifer, thank you. It was Crazycath who reminded me to do this, and I think someone else reminded her.

Bernita, Lana and I were talking yesterday about how spoiled we both were. But we do try to take time to count our blessings.

Middle ditch, I do too, think of those no longer with us. I think of my father and my sister every day. I haven't heard anything from Julie at Virtual Voyage. I do hope everything's OK. I've seen folks come into blogging like gangbusters and then just disappear. I imagine she's all right.

J. L. I know I do, take the good things for granted. I'm kind of ashamed of that.

Ivan, I'm glad your situation has improved. I've never had to live on the street and I'm very grateful for that. I like my creature comforts too much.

Jo said...

You know what Charles? After reading this, I think you should also consider yourself blessed because you are you! What a wonderful post.

When I read this, I cried, "Mom sacrificed so much for me, encouraged me to do the things that made me happy, and, primarily, just loved me."

My husband died when my daughter was four years old. I raised her on my own. She now has a faithful husband, two beautiful children, she lives in a $500,000 house, she has two cars, money in the bank, a Master's degree in speech language pathology and a wonderful career. I sacrificed a lot so she could have all these things, and I always encouraged her when she was growing up. I told her the sky was the limit and she could be anything she wants to be. I taught her about art and literature and music. She had ballet lessons, horseback riding and piano. And I loved her. All the photos in our photo album are of me hugging her.

And she hates me. She tells her children I am evil.

My blessings? I guess that I can live my life without the pain of this anymore. That is a blessing too. And I have other blessings as well.

Susan at Stony River said...

Zombies aren't my thing...but a Zombie *Western* story might just change my mind!

Great post....look, you made me de-lurk.


Erik Donald France said...


I loved your wonderful tribute to life among the living, the family and all that's good.

As for Selby, etc., there are four movies I never want to see again (the first three were well-made, but creeped me out so much I'd rather avoid them from here on out):

Requiem for a Dream,, Last Exit to Brooklyn, Boys Don't Cry,, and Starship Invasion.

Pretty much all because of certain horrific scenes.

In any event,
Rock on, dude!

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


You do have a wonderful life. Isn't it funny that sometimes we do not notice it when things are chaotic? I am blessed too, though I admit I complain or feel blue now and again. I thank you for making me remember to see what I have is a blessing and not everything I want is what I need.

Soft love,

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

That was a lovely post. I too have lots of blessings which I am thankful for every single day. But I loved reading yours!

Charles Gramlich said...

Jo, I'm sorry for the poor relationship that you have with your daughter. I hope that the two of you can overcome it at some point. I know it must be tough.

Susan, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I kind of like zombies but like a little twist on the theme.

Erik, Lana wants me to see the movie "Requiem for a dream," for pretty much that reason. She's not sure she can sit through it again, and I'd like to see it. "Trainspotting" kind of freaked me out though.

Tara, life's pretty good when we slow down and look. Not for everyone, but for many of us.

Ello, it's nice to think about it sometime. Brings a smile to my face.

Tyhitia Green said...

Bravo, Charles. I am grateful for my blessing and have many a blessing at that. :-) Thanks for this post.

Merisi said...

You are right, being grateful is a blessing in itself and has its own rewards. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this with us!

Charles Gramlich said...

Demon hunter, glad you enjoyed.

Merisi, I appreciate that.

SQT said...

Great post Charles. I think it goes without saying that we should all count our blessings regularly.

Sarai said...

Your right sometimes we get going so fast in our lives we forget to take just a second and think of all the wonderful things we do have. It's always a good reminder when life is going hard.

Charles Gramlich said...

SQT, Sarai, thanks.