Friday, July 31, 2009

Positive Day

Well, the Negatonians among us often seem to have 364 days a year to themselves, so why not one day for the Positonians. Welcome to Positive Day, which is the brain child of Jennifer’s Diva Daughter over on Dust Bunny Hostage.

I’ve been thinking a lot these past few years of all the positive things that have happened in my life. Here are just a few:

I was lucky enough to be born on a farm to parents who loved me and showed by example the rewards of hard work extended over time. You don’t get there in a day.

I was lucky enough to get a good education by people who cared about teaching and who weren’t afraid to question without closing their minds to any potential answer.

I was lucky that I discovered reading early because books have become a major pillar of my adult life.

I was lucky enough to get a job that suited me in a place that I wanted, and to be able to keep that job despite plenty of turmoil and obstacles.

I was lucky enough for the world to conspire to present me with a son named Joshua at the exact time I was most ready to love him. Even if I didn’t realize it was that time.

I was lucky to find at least a few other people who like to hear the kinds of stories I like to tell.

I was lucky enough to find Lana at a time when I was close to going insane and traveling to a place where I might not have come back from.

I am lucky today to have love and be able to give love.

And let’s don’t forget. I’m lucky enough to have today off!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Alien Versus Predator Versus The Thing

Traditionally, Hollywood hasn’t done a very good job of creating believable aliens. Much as I like the original Star Trek, for example, its aliens were far too human, not only physically but psychologically as well. Of course, budget and special effects limitations created restraints on the physical features of the Vulcans and Klingons, but a better job could have been done on the psychology.

Since the eighties, though, a few better aliens have been created. Off the top of my head, here are my top three, in reverse order from least to most realistic.

3. The Thing. (John Carpenter’s version.) I really like this alien. It’s just downright cool. And physically and psychologically it is about as far from human as you can get. But, unfortunately, I have to think it’s pretty unrealistic. Plenty of one celled organisms grow by absorbing other cells, and the “Thing” is supposed to be like a collection of cells. Mimicry is also very common in nature and the Thing is an extreme example of that. However, knowing how complex the human brain is, and how complex the cell structures are in a human, I can’t imagine an organism that could assimilate so perfectly in such a short period of time and be absolutely believable as the person it assimilated. It’s still cool, though.

2. The Predator works pretty well because of the care taken in developing the creature’s physiology and society. Especially nice is the fact that they see heat signatures. The suggestion is that they evolved under a hotter sun than humans. It also suggests a reptilian background, since a number of reptiles have this capability. The Predator is still incredibly humanoid, however. And though their society is interesting, it is based pretty clearly on some savage human societies, particularly head hunter and warrior societies. When we see a bit of one of their cities in Alien VS Predator it seems clearly to reflect a Grecian architecture. Over the course of the series the Predator has gotten more and more human. And that’s unfortunate.

1. The Alien (Ripley’s alien, that is), is the best alien yet. Clearly, a lot of effort was spent developing its elaborate life cycle, which is not unlike that of some earth insects. Aliens have both insect and reptile characteristics, which makes sense since nature wouldn’t typically build something on another world that was an exact match for, say, a mammal. One interesting thing is that the Alien’s eggs are soft shelled rather than hard. On earth, this is an amphibian or early reptile characteristic. I can’t decide whether the fact that the alien embryos incorporate some of the DNA from the host species is a good characteristic or not. It’s certainly very different from what parasites on earth do, although it is characteristic of some types of viruses. The main problem with this DNA thievery is that the alien species would normally cease to exist as a unique species pretty quickly. To maintain a species one must maintain the genome.

The acidic blood is a problem, however. Although quite a few insects make internal toxins and even release these into the atmosphere, the alien’s blood is just too corrosive. Eating so rapidly through the kind of metal used to make spaceships would be quite a feat for a biologically developed corrosive. There is a possible explanation, however, and it comes from the earth species known as the Bombardier Beetle. This beetle shoots a spray of a noxious chemicals from its abdomen when disturbed. However, it actually stores two non-reactive chemicals separately in its body, which are combined only ‘outside’ the body after being sprayed into the air from abdominal ducts. Only then do they become reactive. Still, I have a hard time buying the alien’s acidic blood because it is not released from any glands but clearly seems to be circulating in the organism’s system. Highly unlikely.

Finally, with the Alien, I always had a hard time with the growth rate of the creature in the first movie. It’s small when we first see it, but within a few days seems to have grown much larger than a human being. Growth rates can be high for some insects, and even for fish and birds, but nutrients are needed. You only get out what you put in. They could have justified this somewhat if they’d given an indication that the Alien was feeding on something within the ship. Still, all in all, the Alien puts most other Hollywood conceived aliens to shame.

What do you think?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Write With Fire, Part Duex

Thanks so much to everyone for the overwhelming support for Write With Fire. I really appreciate everyone putting the word out. I’ve been doing a lot of publicizing for it on my own. (I think it’s easier to write the darn things.) So far, there’ll be a write up in my home town newspaper, The Charleston Express, in Charleston, Arkansas. It’s nice to know an editor. In this case he’s my brother Paul David!

I’m working on setting up a talk and signing at the Causeway branch of the St. Tammany Library on September 19. I’ve contacted the library folks about it and we have that date tentatively set. I’ll let folks know for sure. It’s nice to know someone who works in the local library. In this case it’s my wife Lana Gramlich! (See it is who you know.) :)

I also will be guest blogging over at Novel Spaces on September 18. I’ll get more information out about what I’m going to blog about as the date moves closer. I’ll just say it’ll be about ‘writing.’ But you knew that.

Finally, I’ve made a connection with Kathy Spiess over at Tale of Two Sisters Bookstore, in Covington, Louisiana, only a few miles from my home. They had their grand opening his past Saturday and I spent an enjoyable couple of hours there. Very nice folks. It’s good to have a privately owned bookstore in the area again. They may be able to make some of my books available in the local community. That would be nice. I have to send Kathy some stuff about my work. That’s on my to-do list for today.

By the way, the book is also available on Barnes & Noble for those who prefer to shop there rather than Amazon.

In the meantime, I’m gonna post some links below to other folks who have posted or blogged about Write With Fire. And If I missed anyone I’m sorry.

Mark, over at the The Walking Man put up such a nice post about me that it took me a moment to realize I was the actual guy he was talking about. You can check out the post, but stay for Mark’s poetry.

I’d also like to thank Pattie Abbott for her kind words about the book. How she found time with all she’s doing, I don’t know.

And Steve Malley posted on it. Steve, I want to read some more graphic novels from you, dude.

James Reasoner over at Rough Edges posted about it. James has forgotten more than I’ve learned about writing. I’d love to see a bio published on James.

Sarai posted about the book. Even though I’m sure she’s very busy right now after her promotion. Congrats!

Natasha Fondren had kind things to say. And much appreciated.

Laughingwolf was actually the first to do a post, I believe. Much appreciated.

Even Wil Harrison has put up a link for the book on his sidebar. It fits right in with some of his weirder “pics of the day” kind of stuff. Thanks, Wil.

I'm adding another link for Rick, who has put up a link for the book. Read his post about the "Dragons of Creativity," as well. Eerie stuff with a lot of substance beneath the wicked prose.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Write With Fire

The fried chicken is in the bucket. Now I can talk about it. 2009 marks my 20th year as a writer. During that time I haven’t gotten famous. During that time I haven’t made enough money to quit my day job. But then, none of the working writers I know are famous. And most of them either have a day job or are married to someone who does. What I have been lucky enough to do for those twenty years, though, is weather the changing seasons that have swept over publishing and still sell pretty much everything I’ve written: vampire stories, sword & sorcery, sword & planet, adventure, westerns, children’s tales, humor, and nonfiction of a wide variety. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty. [Especially the splatterpunk stuff ;)]. But it got done.

Over twenty years I’ve done a lot of thinking about writing, about what works and doesn’t work, about what it takes to give a substantial portion of your life over to this rather strange habit. Almost from the beginning I’ve also written articles about writing. I think best on paper, and those articles have helped me crystallize my own thoughts on the craft. Now all those articles are gathered together in Write With Fire: Thoughts on the Craft of Writing, which has just been published. I’m extremely happy about it. And rather proud, I suppose too.

The book is 248 pages, and divided into three parts. The first part is mainly about the practical mechanics of writing. How do you shepherd ideas through the writing and editing process and into the final form needed for publication? It talks more about fiction than nonfiction but a lot of the articles are really about communicating with your writing, which applies to any genre. The second part deals more with theory and philosophy in writing. What kind of characteristics are common to writers? What makes and breaks a “page-turner?” The last and much shorter section consists of articles that are more personal to my life as a writer, such as my experiences after Hurricane Katrina.

Many of the articles have been published before, often in out of the way magazines, but all of them have been updated and expanded for the book. And there is quite a lot of stuff here that has never been seen before by most of those who know about my writing, including ideas I’ve developed in teaching classes in writing and giving presentations on the craft. I’ve posted the cover on the blog, and the Amazon link is Write With Fire.

I haven’t even gotten my copies yet but will blog about it when I do. In the meantime, I’d really appreciate it if my writer friends in the blogosphere would mention the book around so the word gets out. I’ll thank you for it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Report on Babel Con

To the Left: Cylons Versus Stargate SG1
I’m back from Babel Con, although I’m pretty tired and not back in normal blogging mode yet. We had a good time, though for reasons unclear to the staff, attendance was way down this year, from around 400 to some 140 in initial counts. They changed location, for one. And, of course, there is the economic downturn. They had a lot of great programming, but not as many celebrity guests. Who knows.

The panels I sat on were well attended, although not as much as last year. I sat on panels on pulp fiction, dreams and nightmares, and science versus the occult. I also did a reading, which had a whole six people at it. That was substantially better than another writer’s reading I attended on Saturday, which had two adults there, counting me, and a four year old and a six month old who spent most of the time interrupting and disrupting the writer’s attempts to read and interact with her audience.

I can’t really take much credit for the attendance, though. They had to change the time of the reading a couple of times and three of the people who came included the main con organizer, Andrew Myers, and two folks whose arms he probably twisted to get ‘em there. Two other folks were teenagers who hadn’t heard about the time change and thought they’d be showing movies in the room. Finally, though, there was Stephan, a bud of mine who I know actually likes my work.

Hey, though, I read a couple of my short stories and even the movie buffs appeared to be caught up in the tales. At least they didn’t leave once they found out it was me instead of movies on show, and both came up after and picked up some of the printed copies of stories that I usually take a long to readings to give out to folks. Being young, I’m sure they had no money. I sold just two books, one to Stephan and one to Andrew.

If you just figure the money I made from selling those two books, the con was a financial failure for me. But I didn’t really expect to make any money when I went. I don’t do much in the social arena in fandom so it’s good to see and interact with folks who like some of the same stuff I do. Plus, there’s quite a few folks that I see only once a year, at the con. We always talk about getting together more often but it doesn’t seem to happen.

And on Saturday at the opening ceremonies I was incredibly flattered and honored to be given the inaugural Bob May Award by the Babel Con organization. This is an award to be given each year to someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty in helping the con. I certainly don’t think I deserved it but I sure do appreciate it.

For those of you who don’t know, Bob May’s main claim to fame in SF circles is that he played the robot in the TV series Lost in Space. Bob died just recently, but he had been a guest at Babel Con since its inception and was a very sweet and friendly fellow with lots of hilarious stories about Hollywood. I was really saddened not to have Bob’s smile and wit around this year. It’s an honor to have his award.

To the Right, Stephan and Eileen

To the Left, My Xavier Colleague, Dr. Gena Valentine, does psychoanalysis on Anakin Skywalker.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Books and Babel Con

Many of you know that I'm active on Goodreads. It's a place to record and review the books you read, and to make contact with other readers, and some writers. I'm enjoying it and am still in the process of uploading information on my books. A Goodreads member commented to me the other day that I "read a lot of books." Here was my basic response.

"Well, I'm fifty years old and I've been a compulsive reader since I was a kid. Not only have I read compulsively but since my mid-teens I've kept records on everything I've read. I'm well over 3000 now and counting. Yes, I am that big of a nerd."

A couple of things about that: First, I didn't mention that I actually own at least 90 percent of everything I've listed as having read. Second, I'm finding as I'm updating Goodreads that I actually have missed recording quite a few books that I've read over the years. I wasn't as thorough as I thought I was. Third, when I first started reading recording books I only wrote down the titles, not the authors, which has often made it difficult to find the books from my past. I continually make new discoveries about books on my list. I enjoy that. And yes, once more, I am that big of a nerd.

In other happenings, this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday is Babel Con. I will be there every day, so 1) if you're in the area stop by, and 2) after today I won't be posting or visiting blogs until at least Monday. That day might be a recovery day. I trust you'll all survive.

I'm sitting on panels on Pulp fiction, Dreams and Nightmares, Science and the Occult, and will be doing a reading at 11:00 on Sunday. It should be a hoot!

Take care all.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Cave Inside Us All

Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) , the creator of Conan the Cimmerian, of Solomon Kane, and Kull of Valusia, wrote of having been born out of his time. “…I am infinitely thankful that I am no younger,” he wrote. “I could wish to be older, much older.” He spoke in his letters of how he’d just missed the frontier days. Had he lived his thirty years a mere thirty years before, he would have been in the middle of the final settlement of the American frontier. Sixty or ninety years before and he would have been a pioneer.

Yet, he was a pioneer in his way. He was certainly the first in his home town of Cross Plains, Texas to make his living writing fiction. He was one of the first in the entire state. But I don’t think he ever saw that life as being as fulfilling as wresting his livelihood directly from untamed nature would have been. He wanted to have been born a barbarian, and not because he held an idealized view of the Noble Savage. He found civilization too filled with parasites to enjoy it. That is, the kind of people we see around us now who brought the current economic downturn upon us due to their own greed.

Howard is one of my favorite writers, and recently we’ve had the publication by Del Rey of two collected volumes of his work that really showcase Bob at his best: The Best of Robert E. Howard, Volumes 1 and 2, subtitled “Crimson Shadows” and “Grim Lands.” I recently finished these, mostly rereading stories that I’d read once upon a time.

At the same time as I was reading the Howard collections, I’ve also been reading The Lost Notebooks of Loren Eiseley (1907-1977). Eiseley was a very different fellow than Howard in many ways, being an academic and educator. But Eiseley was an anthropologist, a man with an absolute passion and fascination for the past, which comes through in all his writing. And in that way he and Howard were much the same. Howard loved the study of history, mostly the written history of humankind. Eiseley was more interested in the earliest human world, before there was any history as we know it. He was interested in that time when humans were becoming separated from the animal world in which we evolved. Though, judging from Howard’s first professional sale, a story about cavemen called “Spear and Fang,” maybe they weren’t so different in that way either.

Just this morning I finished a short essay by Eiseley that made me think of Howard. Loren wrote of being attracted to items that are useless in today’s world, a large club-like bolt, a broken shard of blue glass that he spent time shaping into a kind of spear point. But they might mean the difference between life and death if you lived in a more primitive world. Eiseley too seemed born out of his time. Maybe he was even born out of his species; he wrote so intimately of the natural world.

What is it about some people that they live in this world but dream of others? Neither Eiseley nor Howard held idealized views of the wondrous past. They knew that life in the savage world is often nasty, brutish, and short. But something in that world attracted them, invoked them perhaps. Could it be that they both understood, better than most of us, the true nature of humankind? We are all old souls under our clothes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Halfway Point

Well, yesterday I had sushi for lunch, buffalo wings for supper, and finished the 135th page of “Razored Land,” my WIP in progress. This also closes out Part 1 of the book, marking essentially the halfway point, although it’s not absolutely clear yet whether Part 2 will be as long, longer, or shorter. I’m tying up loose ends on Part 1 today but may take tomorrow off. After that, I’ll go back and do a fairly close read through on Part 1 before I rev up for Part 2. The final product will be longer than it is now. I already know some places where I need to add detail and foreshadowing.

In other writing related news, I’m scheduled to be interviewed this morning for the Covington Times Picayune, a local newspaper. Lana is responsible for setting that up. What a sweetheart she is. Later this month I’ll be a guest at Babel Con in Baton Rouge. So far I’m on panels about Pulp fiction and Dreams and Nightmares. And I have a reading scheduled. If anyone is going to be in the area July 17-19, drop in for a visit. I’ve had so much fun the past two years, and this year is planned to be bigger than ever. I assure you that I’m not going to be the biggest name there. There’ll be people you actually recognize. Thank goodness for that.

I may also be able to announce something that I’m really happy about soon. But I try never to count my chickens before they’re fried and in a bucket.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Jack Stocker

A friend of mine by the name of Jack Stocker has died. He passed away this morning after having a massive stroke on Monday. He was 85, and long retired from teaching chemistry at the University of New Orleans.

Jack was not the kind of friend I saw every week, or even every year, but he was far more than an acquaintance. I met him at an SF/Fantasy con and that’s usually where I saw him. He often had a used book table at the local cons and would sit on a panel or two. I was on a few panels with him, and bought a lot of books from him. In the early days I got about half my Burroughs and Howard collection from him. Many of those were outright gifts. Jack loved to share with others his passion for good reads.

Jack also sold my books for me at the cons where we both were guests, and I often helped him pack up his books after the festivities were over. That stopped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, because Jack lost his house and every one of his 20,000 plus volumes to the storm. Another man than Jack might have despaired after that, but Jack didn't let it beat him down. Although I know it hurt him.

Jack was instrumental in helping get me invited as a guest to my first con. He was a fan’s fan. Even in his 80s he was as eager as a little kid to talk about books, and his knowledge of SF/Fantasy was encyclopedic. I had many fun discussions with him over the year, and though I didn’t always agree with him there’s no one whose opinion on SF/Fantasy that I respect more.

Jack, you are missed, my friend.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

There’s No Pleasing Me

Sometimes I guess there’s no pleasing me. Back earlier in the year I posted about gratuitous violence and singled out the Edge Western Series for criticism. I also criticized the main character of the series, Edge himself, as a unrepentant sociopath. That post was “How Much Violence is Too Much?”.

Now let it be known, I do think the author, George G. Gilman (Terry Harknet), is a decent writer. The stories had a strong narrative drive and there were some pretty funny moments of black humor. But in general, I was just bothered by the unnecessary violence, and I found out later that at least some of this violence was included at the behest of the publisher and was not Gilman’s idea.

So then a friend told me that Gilman had written some later books in the series, long after the original run of the books had come to a close, that featured an older and less violent Edge. He pointed me to a website where I could download six of these as ebooks. I did so, and just finished the first one, called The Quiet Gun, on my Kindle. The verdict is: “I didn’t really like it.”

That’s where the title of my post comes from. I wanted Edge less violent and less sociopathic! Well, I got that in spades, and more. By age fifty, it appears that Edge has turned from a complete sociopath to a generally mild mannered fellow bent at all costs on staying on the right side of the law. He doesn’t even wear his gun anymore—he carries it in a carpetbag—and he’s dressed more like a “dude” than a gunslinger. He was trying to buy a wagon to get into the freight business, and didn’t even like to ride a horse anymore. In the first part of the book, he walked everywhere. It definitely felt like an alternate universe Edge. In fact, if I’d met the character in this book for the first time I would have thought he was something of a wimp.

As the book continued, Edge toughened up again and began to show flashes of the old Edge. He never, however, returned to the complete disregard for human life and decency that he’d shown in the early books of the original series. By the end, he’d become something of a gunslinger again but with apparent respect for the law and with some internal integrity. That was more in line with the kind of character I was looking for, but I was still reeling from the early story of the “meek shall inherit the earth” Edge. I guess there’s no pleasing me.

If you’d like to download the ebooks of the Older Edge series, the link is here.

And for a different view from someone who really liked the Edge series, the writer R. J. Dent, here’s another link.

As with anything, don’t just blindly accept my opinion on these books. If you’re curious, follow-up yourself. Your reading experience may vary!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: Five-Yard Fuller

For quite a few years I’d been keeping an eye open for a book called Five-Yard Fuller, which I probably last read when I was around 10. I finally found a copy through Amazon’s associates program and ordered it. As soon as I opened it up and saw the interior illustration of a tall young man in overalls running through a crowd of football players with the ball over his head, the memories came flooding back. I just had to reread it.

Five-Yard Fuller was written by Bob Wells. It features a young man named Clarence Fuller who decides he wants to play football for the Knights, a professional football team very much down on its luck. In fact, their rather hapless abilities reminded me a lot of the New Orleans Saints in their heyday of mediocrity. Fuller has never played organized football, only sandlot ball, but he tells the coach of the Knights that it looks pretty easy. You just “take that little ball in your hand and move it down to where them two posts are standing.”

The coach decides to teach Fuller a lesson and lets him try it. The result is that Fuller scores a touchdown by running over the entire defensive unit. And thus a star is born.

I first discovered Five-Yard Fuller in my local small town library. I don’t know exactly what year I read it but it was published in 1964. To my amazement, and some slight irritation, I found there were actually some sequels to this book. I sure would have liked to have read those too back in the day. One was called Five-Yard Fuller and the Unlikely Knights. Another was Five-Yard Fuller’s Mighty Model T, and yet another was Five-Yard Fuller and the NY Gnats, which, from what I’ve been able to glean on the net is actually about Fuller playing baseball. All were published in the sixties.

I had not realized, until I reread the book, that the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy was apparently based pretty closely on the Wells book, although the book is much, much better. There are just too many similarities to be a coincidence, although I never heard of any acknowledgement from the movie folks that this was the case. Maybe Wells should have gotten some of the $160 million that movie was supposed to have earned. I don’t know if Wells is still living but my guess is not. I couldn’t find out much about the author on the net. The problem seems to be that there are too many folks named Bob or Robert Wells who have been authors. If anyone knows anything about this Bob Wells I’d appreciate you letting me know.

This is definitely a young adult/kid’s book. It’s probably not the cup of tea of many of you out there, but it sure did bring back some pleasant memories.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

In the Beginning

Beginnings are exciting. Moving to a new home. Launching a new career. The first weeks or months of a new relationship. (In many ways, my relationship with Lana still seems new after years of togetherness.) There is promise, hope, and some uncertainty in beginnings. I even like the beginning of a meal at a new restaurant, or the first sip of a strange new brew. It could be that something wonderful is in store.

For readers and writers, the beginning of a story, whether one they are reading or writing, has the same promise, hope, and uncertainty. I love openings. I love to read good ones and I strive to write them. It’s not easy.

To me, the single best opening sentence of any book I’ve read is from Fred Saberhagen’s First Book of Swords. “In what felt to him like the first cold morning of the world, he groped for fire.” Perhaps inevitably, the rest of the book did not quite live up to that promise.

Two great openings that did live up to the promise are from Joe Lansdale’s The Nightrunners, and from Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, a masterpiece of suspense.

Here’s Lansdale: “Midnight. Black as the heart of Satan. They came rolling out of the darkness in a black ’66 Chevy; eating up Highway 59 North like so much juicy, grey taffy.”

Here’s Straub: “Because he thought that he would have problems taking the child over the border into Canada, he drove south, skirting the cities whenever they came and taking the anonymous freeways which were like a separate country, as travel was itself like a separate country.”

These openings captivated me; I had had to read more. But I’ll tell you one opening that shut me down immediately. It was to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire “’’I see-‘ said the vampire thoughtfully, and slowly he walked across the room towards the window.” I put this book down immediately and have never read any of Rice's vampire/witch books. It just seemed so completely lame.

There are those who will accuse me of liking purple prose, but I don’t. I like intensity. I like emotion. I like to be dragged in by the power of the prose. I like to be made uncomfortable. The Rice book opened with a complete lack of threat. We seem to be sitting in a comfortable chair, perhaps having a cognac and a cigar. That’s nice on a cold winter night, but it’s not what I want to invest my reading time in. It’s not what I want to invest my writing time in.

Here's the opening to the first short story I sold, called “Still Life With Skulls.”

“There were eyes in the canvas that I had never drawn, desert eyes of bronze, sulfur eyes like cicatrixes, and river eyes of green--eyes full of dark wings and teeth. There were round mouths open to the night air, and sanguine tongues whose dance burned with holy words. And in the chiaroscuro wastelands of the unfilled canvas there were ruins whose outlines I could not yet trace. I knew only that they held a bitter rapture and smelled faintly of ashes.”

This is the beginning to the second vampire tale I sold, called “A Cold of Snow and Ghosts:”

“He ran northward across the frozen tundra, with the pure light of the Aurora streaming above him in broad arcs that sparked green and red with ionization. His flying feet seemed barely to skim the ground, leaving behind prints in the snow that were as delicate as fallen petals, and as ephemeral. Over his shoulder hung a caribou stag with its throat wrapped in a necklace of frozen black blood. He hoped that he would be in time.”

What about you? How important are beginnings for you? Whether in reading, writing, or anywhere else? What are some of your favorite openings?