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Monday, March 16, 2015

Major Stage Fright for Not a Poet

OK, I'm a'm freaked out here. My local Kansas City NPR station, KCUR, announced a couple of months ago that it was inviting local authors to submit short writings that could be recorded and played on their station. Under three minutes. So I submitted a poem "Sipping Gin." And I am NOT a poet. Am I?

Got an email back asking me to submit the poem as a recording. I borrowed a high tech tape recorder from friend John Tygart and started trying to record said poem. I am so bad at this stuff. Finally, after I don't know how many tries and hating hearing my voice, got something to send. Today, I'm informed they'd like me to come in next week to record the poem I have another poem as well! I do, bless my soul. "In February the Crows Come," a poem that ends the novella One More Victim. A poem that took me thirty years to find the last stanza that ends the story that took that long to write.

Stay tuned, folks. I fully expect that when I go to the studio for the recording I will collapse in a garble of gasping incoherence and they will sort of shake their heads and show me the door.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Happy to Have Former Rejected "Blue Kansas Sky" Included in Anthology Titled "Rejected"

Pleased to have a short story of mine, Blue Kansas Sky, included in an anthology whose premise you've got to love. Rejected includes stories that have been rejected. You had to submit your proof of rejection along with your story. I was hoping they would also print the rejection. My story "Blue Kansas Sky" is number five in this collection. It was rejected by the defunct Kansas Quarterly. It would have meant so much to me in my youth to have had that story accepted. Wasn't to be. Hope you'll check out me and my other former rejectees. If you use the Look Inside function, you can read the first four stories and part of Blue Kansas Sky. If you just want to buy Blue Kansas Sky, you can find it by itself, here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Works Available for Apple Users

Finding my works for reading on Apple devices is not straightforward. What is available is downloadable via iTunes. You should know, if you don't, that you can download a free app that will let you read kindle books on your Apple device. But here are the works that can be had via iTunes:

Crazy About You
My most downloaded work. Novel is set on the grounds of an insane asylum and creates one week in the life of a high school boy that will grow him up faster than he could have ever wanted.

Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America
This dystopia is my second most downloaded work. The title pretty much sums it up. The religious right have won the day and the Pastor President and pastor governors rule with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel.

The Notebook
Novella has received a lot of positive reviews. No reader yet has been able to foretell the ending of this horror/suspense work.

Innocent Passage
Short story.

The Strange Case of James Kirkland Pilley
If you like H.P. Lovecraft, this is my homage to him. One reviewer said I "Out-Lovecrafted Lovecraft."

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reflecting on the Further Decline of The KC Star

I'm not sure why opening my Sunday Kansas City Star today and learning that it would be the last time I would read The Kansas City Star Magazine filled me with...dread.

Part of the feeling was personal. I had been proud to have three freelance pieces used as cover stories for The Star Magazine. One of them, on Linda Hall Library, reintroduced that little appreciated Kansas City gem to readers. It took me six months of work and I received a princely sum of $200 for it. But one value for me was that I felt my name had joined the list of so many writers who contributed to the magazine and represented some of the best in reporting and writing talent the Star has had to offer since 1970. Too many of them have and are drifting away and being cast away.

Part of the deep sadness was the demise of the magazine after a life of only 45 years was one more sign that my local newspaper is becoming, well, not MY local newspaper anymore. I like sports. I listen to sports radio every day. The Royals success last year was like a drink of cool water for this fan who had been wondering in the desert for so many years. But sports is sports and the front page of the paper is the front page. Rarely should the two meet. Certainly not take up three-quarters of that valuable press real estate for a story on Yordano Ventura, love though I did the story and how well it was written by Vahe Gregorian. I read every word. But I would have read every word had it been in its proper section—the sports section or, imagine this, placed in The Star Magazine.

The state of the Arts and Entertainment section is in deep question. Folks, art writer Alice Thorson provided really good and knowledgeable pieces about the art scene in our city. More downsizing, I understand, means more stories by outside freelancers. That will cost the Star less, but will it give readers more? I was particularly offended there was no note from The Star's publisher, Mi-Ai Parrish, nor its editor, Mike Fannin, on why the magazine was being killed off, nor what their vision is for the future of The Star. It could well be there is only one vision: survive.

Last Sunday, my paper lacked the color comics section. I realized this greatly bothered me and then I was disturbed even more by how greatly I missed it. It made me question: why DO I take the Star?

The answer I came up with is the one that is at rock bottom: I want a reliable source about local news: government, police, courts, business, politics—the working necessary guts of our society.

Good newspapers do this while providing an environment where the best writing and photography can thrive.

Ready for that dread part?

I am not the reader the Star wants. It wants young eyes that poke at that phone/tablet thing, not these old ones that read print while sipping morning coffee.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Maybe You'll Want to Become a Bobbite, too

I started writing Rabbletown: Life in These United Christian States of Holy America before 1984. I had a notion that when 1984 rolled around, there would be a lot of attention given to George Orwell's famous novel by that name and that I might get some attention for mine. I'd call it "2084." Nice idea, but the novel didn't get written. I had envisioned a long, complex novel that would create the characters that showed how the religious right gained political power over the United States and what they did with it.

Never been good at long, complex stories. So I cut to the chase and went right to the year 2084.

Then I created a manageable set of characters and let them live their lives in an environment where pastor governors and the Pastor President rule with a Bible in each fist and the computer in your hovel. But I wrote myself into a corner with Bobby. It took me a while to realize I had to let Bobby perform his miracles.

Best explanation of what Bobby is all about comes from an early review by one of Amazon's top 500 reviews:

I expected a few things when I started reading this book. I expected to be amused by a satirical take on the Fundamentalists that are doing their utmost to take over this country - sadly, it is difficult to make amusing, because the idea of Fundamentalists taking over this country and turning it into an Evangelical theocracy is absolutely terrifying. I expected to be outraged by the excesses of Fundamentalist leaders who grow rich, while the common people live in poverty. What I did not expect was to be profoundly moved. I did not expect goose bumps or a profound feeling of "rightness" to come over me while reading.

12-year-old Bobby Crowley is special. He has an amazing memory for Bible verses, and a strangely wise way of saying just the right thing at just the right time. And he has been carefully watching the formation of a significant alignment of stars in the sky, including a new star that just appeared three months ago, which are forming a cross. On a Friday like any other Friday - one that would see the stoning to death of a 6 people - Bobby takes his place among the great religious leaders of the world when he steps forward and speaks the words "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and in the process saves the life of a beatific young woman: he gains a following and begins performing miracles, and providing proverbs of hope, peace and love.

Caught in his wake are a number of people; they go into Rabbletown, the slums of Topeka, where Bobby spreads the way of peace, love, acceptance and kindness, rather than the hate and manipulations used by those in power. And in a world where the leaders all emulate the practices and beliefs of the disgusting Fred Phelps, those sorts of teachings are threatening. Bobby and all who believe in him and his miracles are declared anathema and the Inquisition is sent after them.

This book does two things: it exposes the horror of a theocratic, fascist Evangelical Fundamentalist power structure, and it provides hope for redemption for anyone who chooses to live a truly good life, and follow the basic teachings that so many modern-day dogmatics seem to forget are the only two rules laid down by Christ - you know, the one Christians are supposed to emulate? 1) love each other and treat others like you would like them to treat you; 2) love the Higher Power of Creation, in whatever form you choose to comprehend It. This book - reading this book - will cause a profound shift in perception and I believe, honestly, that the world would be a better place if everyone followed the example set by Bobby. We all need to become Bobbites. Read this book and see if you don't find these truths to be as profound as I did.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The 41st Sermon Discounted Until Jan. 22

Starting today and for a week The 41st Sermon will be discounted on Amazon from $4.99 to $0.99 and then in increments go back to original price. So if you think you have an interested in reading this literary work about a Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis, now's the time. Father Talley goes on his annual solo vacation where he also outlines the sermons for his coming year. This time he encounters a beautiful, blonde parishioner who snares him into her phony kidnap plot. If you know Walker Percy, the great Southern writer who burst upon the scene with "The Moviegoer," my novel has a connection to him. You can read about that here.

Here's the Amazon URL for The 41st Sermon

One reviewer:
Wow. Rarely do I find a book that twists as much as this one. I would have rated this 5 stars had it not started off so slowly during the character set up. Personally, I enjoyed it, the plot twists and presentation was excellent, the characters were well developed, and the content a bit taboo. I would recommend this book to any open minded individual.

An excerpt:
"The Greeks were honest," Father Talley told her. "They had a god for everything. A god of love and of war and even drunkenness. And isn't there something godlike in drunkenness, a power to be celebrated? And the power of sex? They accepted and celebrated all these elemental powers in a human being instead of trying to deny them the way Christianity has. Christianity used the Jewish god, a god who is everything, and by being everything ended up being a big, fat nothing. I should be sacrificing a lamb to Aphrodite for sending you to me. Instead, I'm supposed to feel guilt. I don't feel any guilt at all. I feel alive."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Are You a Kindle Unlimited Subscriber?

Kindle offers for $9.99 free access to hundreds of thousands of books. Thought I would list the works I have enrolled in that program:

Novel: Then and Now: The Harmony of the Instantaneous All Set in Lawrence, KS and The University of Kansas during that turbulent spring of 1970

Novel: The 41st Sermon Episcopal priest at mid-life and mid-faith crisis gets involved with beautiful blonde parishioner and her phony kidnap plot

Sci-fi short story By Pain Possessed Can the weakest human save us all?

Short story about a solo round of golf: Downswing

Sci fi novella: A Match Made in Heaven The Mormons leave Earth to populate the Planet Moroni and discover their destiny among the stars and themselves

Literary novella: One More Victim Because the Holocaust is a critical element in this three-part story, it has broken through the top 100 in world literature>Jewish

Collection of shorts: Hospital Days 14-year-old boy learns some life lessons working as a candy striper in a small town hospital

Short story. The Richard Dary Weight Loss Institute The best weight loss program is the one you can't remember