Waking from summer dreams

We’re well into autumn, well past time to have shed summer’s quietude–the season wherein I spent much time in thought, introspection, and observation. The outcome from these quiet pursuits is a recharged battery and a newly awakened focus on writing

I’ve also been channeling a curmudgeonly character whose remarks resonate as a cross paly_g_scrooge01jr_576between Ebenezer Scrooge and Mr. Magoo. His gripes include rants against everything from dirty political ads to robo-calls. I can only offer one of the latter here, as his rant against the dishonesty of political mud-slinging isn’t for polite company.
“I’ve registered my phone number with the Federal Do Not Call registry, so why are these d@mned calls coming through?! Why in tarnation don’t you report them?!”
I tried explaining to him that robo-calls don’t have live people at the other end, just a recorded message triggered by his picking up the phone (or more likely his voice mail answering), dialed by a computer with a pre-generated (and most likely a purchased) list of phone numbers, and that there was no one to report, that it appeared to be a loop-hole overlooked by the FDNC registry rules.
My curmudgeon said, “Well, why the h-e-double-hockey sticks don’t they close it?!”
I could only shrug.

My curmudgeon is difficult to silence. However, he’s unlikely to receive much print time here for, as I’ve already noted, he tends toward ‘not for prime-time’ descriptions and even less polite language.

I did manage to leave him behind when I flew to Vancouver for 4 days of pure heaven at the Surrey International Writers Conference late last month . The sessions were technically instructive and creatively invigorating. Just as importantly, I caught up with old friends, a treasure to be savored in itself.
There is pleasure and satisfaction in learning new skills to use in my writing and to deepen my characters, and even greater pleasure in the traditions that accompany SIWC, like Michael Slade’s Shock Theatre, featuring KC Dyer, Diana Gabaldon, Anne Perry, Jack Whyte, Michael himself, and this year, featuring the added talents of Donald Maass, Hallie Ephron, and Susanna Kearsley.

But the most hallowed tradition and the one I treasure most is the singing of Mud, Glorious Mud, led by novelist, bard, and singer, Jack Whyte. Enjoy.




Earning Readership

One of my favorite TV series is Pit Bulls and Parolees. It’s unique in that the audience is drawn into the work of a family headed by a tough, brave, street-wise matriarch named Tia Torres, who rescues pit bulls and hires parolees to help her family tend the 200-odd rescued dogs, while the men help themselves ease back into society. Some of the young men succeed. Others fail and find themselves back in prison.

The show isn’t exactly a slice of mom’s warm apple pie. With Torres as guide, viewers have been exposed to dogs who’ve been badly mistreated; have been starved, used as bait, turned loose to fend for themselves, tortured and even killed. Way worse than some of the nature shows that show animals in the wild, giving birth, hunting, bringing down game for food, fighting for dominance, killing and being killed. What’s the difference? The dogs’ conditions are brought about by man’s inhumanity, which is recognizable as a concrete antagonist. Nature is just nature. But I digress.

Why am I such a fan of the show? It boils down to trusting Torres. Often afraid of the possible danger she’s walking into while attempting to save an animal, her fortitude is compelling, as are the stories of her family and the parolees who people the dog sanctuary called Villa Lobos.

What’s that got to do with readership? Well, the novelists I read—Diana Gabaldon, Joanna Bourne, Geraldine Brooks, Sarah Dunant, Phil Rickman, Jack Whyte to name a few favorites—write spellbinding stories, stories peopled by compelling, complex characters in impossible situations. No matter the brink these authors lead me to, I go willingly, knowing I can trust that their impeccable writing, intricate plotting and imaginative storytelling will never fail me and will always deliver a truly satisfying reading experience.

It’s what I want from the authors I read. “Good writing will always find a fan base,” says Deleyna Marr, author of “Sisterhood.” I agree. And I’m one.