Sunday, March 21, 2010

To Arkansas, for a Funeral

Well, my mother passed away on Sunday, a little after noon. My brother said she went peacefully at the last. I will be leaving for Arkansas early Tuesday. The funeral will be on Wednesday. Not sure when I'll be back, or when I'll be likely to post again. It will probably be a while.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Journey to Babel...Con

This weekend (March 19-21) will feature the Babel Con SF/Fantasy/ Horror convention in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It’s being held at the LSU Cook Hotel, and the webpage link is HERE! It’s much, much earlier this year than last, but I think they wanted to have it happen while regular school was in session so as to attract more visitors. You can click on a flyer at the web page.

If you’re in the area, feel welcome to drop in. And bring your kids if you’ve got ‘em. It should be a lot of fun. I won’t be there Friday but will be there all day Saturday for several panels, and will almost certainly be there some on Sunday as well. My panels will be talking about Dreams, where they come from and what they mean, about the “Paranormal, Supernatural, and Science,” and about Parapsychology.

In the meantime, I’m going to eventually do a post on “borrowed” titles, titles that have been used on books or stories that originated elsewhere. These are often very effective because of the resonance they generate. Some examples that hit me off the top of my head are: “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Sun Also Rises” from Hemingway, which I believe he borrowed from the Bible. I know there’ve been plenty of titles borrowed from Shakespeare. Can you think of any such “borrowed” titles yourself, from books or music or anything else?

The title of this post is one such borrowing. Extra credit if you know where the first three words of this title come from.

Monday, March 15, 2010


I love writing. I love talking about writing. But sometimes I don't love teaching writing. Out of 27 papers turned in my Writing in Psychology class, four were plagiarized. Two of these were almost completely copied word for word off the net. The other two had substantial sections copied word for word. Because I've dealt with plagiarism before, far too many times, I put information on plagiarism into my syllabus. It's also covered several times in the book we use, and we've had two quizzes about plagiarism already in the class. I start DAY 1 with a discussion of plagiarism, and discuss it again before every paper is due. I tell you, it just hurts my soul a little bit to see it happen despite all that discussion. Not to mention that it adds a lot of extra work to a job that is already pretty tough.

Anyway, three of the individuals were given "F's on their papers and asked to drop the class. I've not been able to contact the fourth yet. Wow, it's just really been fun.

In the meantime, though, I have gotten some good news on my own writing front. "Chimes" got great reviews from: Rick and Kate. Thanks so much to them both. I really appreciate it.

The FDA inspector is here and has all the files. Nothing much to do now but wait. I'll try to get around to a few blogs today.

Best to all.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Long Hours Ahead

I feel lately like I'm mostly making excuses here for why I'm not blogging regularly and not visiting everyone regularly. It's not for lack of ideas. I've got plenty of those. What I haven't had is time. The next 10 to 12 days will be no exception. I get 27 term papers in my writing in psychology class today, and then another 20 plus essays on Thursday from a second class. I could probably manage that reasonably but the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) called to let me know they'll be coming Monday to inspect the files for the research committee that I chair. They do this every few years but it means many, MANY hours of me going through our files to extract the information they want. I'm looking at 12 to 15 hour days straight through at least next Tuesday. So, once again, blogging has to take a back seat.

In the meantime, David Cranmer did a very nice review of "Chimes" over at his blog, and I much appreciate it. Thanks, David.

I will be back, with writing related posts sometime next week at the latest.

Friday, March 05, 2010

All talk, no action, and "Chimes," of course.

“Chimes” is garnering some reviews and mentions around. Randy did a very nice review and I much appreciate that.

The story has also been mentioned favorably at Gary’s Tainted Archive. Thanks!

…And discussed over at Women of Mystery by Clare2E. Much appreciated as well.

Mark has also put up a link to the story. I appreciate that.

I’m reading an article on writing now that talks about how important dialogue is in the opening lines of a story. It lists many positives about using dialogue that way. I have to say I totally disagree, although I suspect many readers would side with the author of that article rather than with me. I almost always hate it when books or stories start with a line of dialogue. In fact, starting with a line of dialogue has probably cost some authors sales where I’m concerned. I just do not want to hear the voice of the character until I have a feel for “where” I’m at or “what” is going on.

As a reader, I don’t mind an opening that involves internal monologue nearly as much, although I prefer to get my feet wet with setting or action first. However, opening with dialogue is, to me, very obtrusive. It feels like I’m being talked at without having any idea who is doing the talking. I’m sure there are exceptions where the dialogue is just perfect as an opening, but I can’t think of one right now. I’ve actually tried starting stories myself with a line of spoken dialogue, but I’ve never been able to finish one. They all just bored me too tears before I could get out of the starting box. I have done stories that started with a character’s internal thoughts.

So, does anyone remember a book or story that started with dialogue and it worked perfectly?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

More on Chimes, and Updates

"Chimes" is still available from Damnation Books. Since most folks who commented on my promotion idea seemed to think it was either a good idea or OK, I'm going to go ahead and try it. Anyone who does a review for the story will have their names entered into a drawing to win a copy of whichever of my books they might want. That includes the three Talera novels, Write With Fire, and the Writing in Psychology Guidebook. Any review counts; it doesn't have to be a good review.

Another thing going on in my life right now is not positive, and it makes it hard to talk about the things that are positives. Even though I feel like I need to.

My mom was showing some improvement but has had a pretty bad setback. She's pulled her stomach feeding tube out twice now. It's not looking good, and right now the feelings are far too convoluted and complex to speak clearly of. I'm not even completely sure what those feelings are, since I go from hope, to resignation, to various emotions in between. Someday I'll probably write about them. But not today.

Monday, March 01, 2010

New Story Published

My horror story, “Chimes,” has just been released from Damnation Books. It’s an ebook, and right now it’s cheap. Damnation Books actually releases works at lower than the cover price and lets that price rise gradually until it reaches the full amount. It’s good to get in early then. If you’re interested, the link is at Chimes. I’d appreciate it if you’d check it out, at least.

I also have a question concerning the story. I’d like to get some reviews of it. What if I ran a kind of contest? Say I entered everyone who reviewed the story and informed me of that review into a drawing. The winner would get their choice of a copy of any one of my books they might want. Does this sound too much like a bribe? Or is it a creative way of encouraging and rewarding reviews?

There often seems to be a fine line between self-promotion and prostituting oneself. Every artist needs to self-promote, but I always feel uncomfortable when self-promotion crosses the line. The problem is, where exactly is that line? I’m never very sure.