Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I first met J. Bruce Fuller at a science fiction convention many years ago. He was much younger than I, and I remember him having a lot more hair than now. We talked quite a while after one of my panels and we’ve stayed in touch over the years. In fact, we’ve worked together several times on various poetry projects, including my collection of vampire haiku called Wanting the Mouth of a Lover. I’ve been very happy to see him gaining a reputation as a prominent Louisiana and southern poet. From my reading of his work, it’s well deserved. Below, I review his latest chapbook offering.
J. Bruce Fuller. Notes To A Husband.  Imaginary Friend Press. 2013. 18 pp. Introduction by Amy Fluery. Edited by Dan Nowak.

J. Bruce Fuller is a Louisiana native who obtained his MFA in poetry from McNeese State University and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Louisiana—Lafayette. He has already been widely published and his latest poetry chapbook, Notes To A Husband, is the subject of this review.

In Fuller’s latest chapbook, he uses the form of notes from a wife to a husband to illustrate the waning of a relationship. There is no heightened poetical language to mask or mythologize the relationship. It is laid out stark on the page, in the common language of humanity. All the ambivalence of such dramas is there. Even while the woman thinks “about old lovers” she washes her husband’s “favorite mug.” She admits her own faults; she sugarcoats nothing.

It’s often claimed that what is left unsaid is at least as important as what is actually said. Notes To A Husband illustrates this perfectly. I’ve seldom been made so keenly aware of what can be revealed “between the lines.”  In her introduction to Fuller’s collection, Amy Fluery refers to the “indirection of silence,” and I think that’s a very fine way of describing the depth to be found in these mostly brief poems. They’re like the proverbial house that is much bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside. They expand in your consciousness as you read them.

I highly recommend Notes To A Husband.  You can find out more about the collection, or order a copy for yourself, at Imaginary Friend Press: www.imaginaryfriendpress.com

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Coming Soon from Razored Zen Press

I’ve just published one new item through Razored Zen Press, and in the next few weeks will be releasing two more. The first item is a print version of the Louisiana Inklings anthology, which appeared in ebook a year or so ago. This is a collection of writings from members of my writing group, which I organized and edited. A few of my own pieces are included, although all are more literary than genre fiction. I used CreateSpace, Amazon’s printing arm, to produce it, and the proof copy came out perfect. I’ve now ordered the first actual copies. If all works out well with this, I’ll probably start producing some print versions of other ebooks I’ve published, such as Killing Trail and Days of Beer.  I might produce some “super” collections, of several different individual ebook publications lumped together.  I expect Louisiana Inklings to be primarily of interest to local folks around the Abita Springs and southern Louisiana area, but if you want to check it out, it’s here

One of the soon-to-be-released items is a longish short story/novella called The Machineries of Mars. This is a Sword and Planet fantasy tale, which was originally earmarked for an anthology that never came to fruition. The editor released the stories back to us a month or so ago and I’ve been setting it up for publication. I really like the cover I’ve come up with for it, although I had to have help from Lana to bring it to fruition. I’ll talk much more about it when I upload it.

The second soon-to-be-released piece will be the first ever non-Charles Gramlich story to be published from Razored Zen Press. It’s a political satire from a friend of mine and will be published anonymously because it contains graphic depictions of sexual activity. I still have to do the cover for this but it’ll probably be done within a week or so.

Slowly, ever so slowly, I make progress on getting projects finished and published. It’s always nice to see them appear.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

While I was Away

Well, I'm back from CONtraflow and starting to dig out from under everything that has piled up. I much enjoyed the con and got to meet several new folks as well as visit with old friends and acquaintances  Most of my panels were pretty well attended, although the one on self-publishing had only two folks. I'd expected more for that one.  Maybe the tide is turning there.

Unfortunately, I came home to find that someone had smashed up the reflectors we'd put up by our driveway to help us back out in the dark mornings, and then they bashed in our mailbox so that it has a big dent in the top and the lid will no longer shut. It was also leaning rather drunkenly to one side. Our house was the only one so hit in the neighborhood, which bothers me quite a bit.

I spent half an hour of time that I could ill afford getting the mailbox back in some semblance of working order. We see kids in our neighborhood quite often and expect it was one of them that did the damage. We don't know for sure, of course. The reflectors were stolen once before but I walked around the neighborhood until I found them and brought them back. 

Lana and I have always tried to be friendly to the neighboring children, going so far as to give a bicycle to one local kid. But it seems I must constantly be reminded that no good deed goes unpunished.  

Of all crimes, I think I understand vandalism the least. To simply destroy things. Why?


Friday, October 18, 2013

Going to be Away for a Few Days

I generally dislike breaks.We were off Monday and Tuesday for fall break and I did enjoy the time off. However. when I got back to work I had a massive pile of material waiting for me to deal with. Breaks mean that other people now have time to do work that they then send to me for evaluation. I've already had five research proposals land on my desk through Wednesday and Thursday of this week. I have a test to give today (Friday), and then mid-terms are due first of next week. Any rest I gained from the break has already been crushed by the piled up work that has appeared since.

In addition, I'll be gone much of the weekend to CONtraflow Con right here in the greater New Orleans area. I mentioned it back a blog post or two ago. I'm looking forward to that, but I won't be getting school work done during that time so Monday and Tuesday of next week will be overloaded.

For these reasons, I probably won't be visiting blogs again until after mid-terms are turned in early next week. I'll leave you with the following. Hope you enjoy, and I'll see you when I return.

The Talera cycle:  http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Talera-Book-One-Cycle/dp/1434400816/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382103261&sr=8-1&keywords=swords+of+talera


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Gravity and A Little Something Else

Lana and I went to see the movie Gravity today. We watched it in 3D at the IMAX theater. Those of you who know me know I'm a long way from a movie buff. Frankly, I usually don't give a crap about them. But I have to say the 3D IMAX version of Gravity was pretty overwhelming. 3D has come a longggg way since the last time I saw such a movie, which was probably 15 or 20 years ago. It was incredibly engrossing and did not feel contrived at all. I did have a mild headache after leaving the theater, but I'm not sure if that was a function of the 3D effect, the thunderous sound system, or both. The headache went away pretty quickly.

Even in non 3D, I suspect this movie would be very good. It was as intense and suspenseful as anything I've seen in years. Sandra Bullock and George Clooney did amazing jobs as the only two characters we ever put real faces to. I've always liked Bullock, have generally not been particularly admiring of Clooney, but both deserve award nominations for this movie.  Of course, much of the credit also goes to the writers who put wonderful dialogue into the actors' mouths.

The special effects were just outstanding. Although we expect good special effects these days, I thought this movie took it a step above and beyond (so to speak). Both Lana and I felt at times like we were right there inside the astronauts' suits. The sheer immensity of space and the awful loneliness of it came through in just about every frame. As Bullock or Clooney reached to grab for a hand hold, or strained to reach something just off their fingertips in the darkness, I reached with them. I felt like I'd gone through the ringer by the time it was over, and will give the movie my hearty recommendation. I've not done that very often for movies here.

- - - - -
I'll end with a little change of pace. Here's a little teaser I worked up for "Under the Ember Star."  What do you think? I've done a couple more of these as well and will be posting them over the next few days.


Saturday, October 12, 2013


I'll be a guest at the New Orleans area CONtraflow 3 convention this coming weekend, October 18-20. It's being held at the DoubleTree Hilton near the New Orleans airport in Kenner, Louisiana. Kenner is a suburb of New Orleans. The Con link is:

The phone for the hotel is:  504-467-3111

Here's my schedule at present.

The Pulp Writers: Robert E. Howard and Beyond, Friday, 4pm, Panel Rm 2

Exploring Dreams and Nightmares, Friday, 8pm, Panel Rm 3

The Truths of Self Publishing, Saturday, 3pm, Joey Grillot Memorial Movie Rm

Getting Published, Sunday, 10am, Panel Rm 2

I did some similar panels last year and they were well attended and we had a lot of fun. If you happen to be anywhere in the area, it's a great con.  Big enough to be interesting but small enough to feel pretty intimate. 

All are welcome, whether you're big into SF/Fantasy or not.


Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Two Big Mistakes

One of my chores on the farm when I was growing up was to gather the eggs from our chickens and guineafowl. Guineafowl are a vaguely chicken-looking kind of bird that is raised much like chickens. They tend to eat ticks and are sometimes used to control those pests. That’s probably part of the reason my dad kept them. Although generally smaller than chickens, they taste much the same when cooked, and their pint-sized eggs make tasty omelets. Guineas are also wilder than chickens and I remember having to search much further afield to find their nests and eggs. It was an adventure.

In contrast to the guineafowl, our chickens tended to stay close to the chicken barn where they both nested and roosted. That made their eggs easier to find, and we ate fresh eggs for breakfast just about every morning. Some chickens would quit laying eggs if you took the ones they produced, so to keep those hens laying Dad would sometimes replace their real eggs with wooden ones painted white. The chickens didn’t seem to notice the difference. Apparently, neither did another creature that sometimes haunted our hen houses.

While we wanted our chickens and guineas, of course, one of the most undesirable visitors to our farm was a large variety of black snake that we called a chicken snake. They often grew four or five feet long, and I saw some as long as seven or eight feet. I never saw a chicken snake eat an actual chicken, but I found them coiled up in the hen’s nests at times when I was out gathering eggs. Those nests were almost always empty of eggs, although I don’t believe the snakes were quite so empty themselves.

One day, I found a big six-footer in one of the nests where Dad had placed some wooden eggs. The snake had already swallowed one “egg,” which made a noticeable bulge in its belly, and had a second in its mouth. I remember watching in fascination as its jaws and throat distended around the white oval of wood, which it slowly worked back into its throat.

Normally, chicken snakes swallow the eggs they steal whole and then crack them inside their bodies, either by muscular contraction, or by wrapping themselves around a rock or tree for some added help. They then absorb the nutrients and crap out the pieces of shell. That was not going to happen for this unfortunate egg thief. I couldn’t even imagine the pain he was going to experience when he tried to crap out two intact wooden eggs.

I figured it was nothing short of merciful to kill him with a hoe to the neck. I trust he would have done the same thing for me if our roles had been reversed.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

A Bottle in My Pocket

I don’t have an actual memory of this event but I remember being told about it hundreds of times. Apparently, up until I was two or three years old I used to carry my milk bottle around in the pocket of my overalls. This apparently incensed by older sister to no end and whenever she was left babysitting me she’d take it away. Daddy would then get mad at her and give it back to me when he came home. 

I guess Dad figured I’d grow out of it on my own, and I did. For example, I no longer carry a whiskey flask in my back pocket everywhere I go. I stopped that about five years ago now. 

Come to think of it, most all of my older siblings (3 brothers, 1 sister) tried to do some raising of me. Thank goodness I was able to avoid being unduly influenced.

If you were a younger child, did your siblings try raising you as well? How successful were they at it?