Archive for Blog

Tears of Heaven

R. A. McCandless’s badass demi-angel bears a grudge nearly two dozen centuries old. She makes effective use of her displaced aggression by dispatching rogue divinities, presumably making the world safer for the rest of us, albeit in ways we oblivious mortals will never fully comprehend or appreciate.

Omedelia-bar-Azazel, Del for short, is impressively sexy as a 21st-Century death dealer and as slave-wife to Read More→

Vocal Apparatus

Drawing of a woman with a bird in her mouth

I’ve been reading Hajo Duchting’s Paul Klee: Painting Music, a book my wife gave me as an early birthday present. I made this drawing before I started the book, but the relationship between visual art, music, and music-making is one I return to often, as Klee did. He was more of a theorist than I am. We share a birthday.

Here I was thinking of the songbird as an emblem of the human impulse to make songs. Whenever I start to think in figurative terms, trying to fit an image to an idea–especially an idea that is essentially linguistic in origin–a certain literal-mindedness takes over. It’s an act of rebellion, I think.

I drew, as I often do, with an ink pen on paper, then scanned the drawing into my computer and “painted” it in Photoshop.

Haibun #3

Morningshade retreats. Sunglint of chrome flickers past, panels of big trucks’ white glare: Atlanta traffic, beyond a Flannery O’Connor wall of ivy-hung trees and wires strung taut from pole to pole.

The pool, not yet open, hasn’t been inspected. ABSOLUTELY NO JUMPING NO DIVING. 5 feet deep at the deep end.

We’re here to buy a motor home. Here to initiate a new kind of life, two halves of a vagabond soul. Great Lakes await us, the distant deserts of the West. Alton, our mechanic, assures us: “Nothing worth seeing till you hit Nevada, Idaho, Route 5 along the Washington/Oregon coast, the grapevine in Cali.”

On Puget Sound

a foghorn calls my father, penetrates

his slumber

Foghorns, Arthur Dove, 1929

Fantastical Bucket List

A couple weeks ago, I sat in on my first North County Casual Writers gathering. We learned a new (to me) Japanese form popularized by the haiku artist, Basho. A meditative combination of prose and poetry laced with longing, the haibun is perfect for travel writing, and since Michelle and I are planning to hit the road soon and often in the coming years, I’m curious to see if I can make it a new kind of writing habit. In fact, we headed south to Georgia recently to investigate a few large vehicles for sale. Here’s my second attempt at haibun. I think instead of titling, I’ll simply number them.

Haibun #2

She was a beauty, that ’56 Vistaliner. Painted two tints bluer than the Carribean with ribbed chrome rounding her corners and tires black and spiffed as Elvis Presley’s pompadour. A step up from the cockpit to the dining table and a view from a second windshield, a forward-facing skylight looking down the road. Started like a diesel dream, she did. But inside? Cabinets askew, drawers warped beyond opening from high dessert heat or low country water damage. Too much left to do, too little elbow room for too much money. She’da become a high-maintenance mistress in a Grand Ole Opry heartbeat.

Rambling highway band

Ferlin Husky headlining

on a wine country tour

Our challenge for the following week was to create a “Fantastical Bucket List” or things to do that might require an alternate universe. Here’s mine:

1. I will learn to shift my being at the elemental level, becoming at first a flame confined to the wick of a candle, consuming the vapors my heat releases. Later, with practice, I will light lamps as I pass by in the night and reveal paths previously cloaked in darkness.

2. I will buy a telescope, or make one, that reveals to me the thoughts of passersby.

3. I will solve the grandfather paradox.

4. I will create an app that allows you to vacation in the movie of your choice.

5. I will go ice fishing on Europa.

6. I will build a time-traveling ark and make excursions to rescue extinct species.

7. I will build another ark for species that heretofore existed only in books and in the minds of hyper-imaginative children.

8. I will reconfigure the caverns of the Earth according to a diatonic scale, turning the planet into a wind instrument, which I will learn to play.

9. I will build a furnace with a beating pulse and cover it with armored plates to comfort motherless dragonlets.

10. I will raise Cain from the dead and let him tell his side of the story.

11. I will uninstall the indoctrinations of my youth one by one, checking methodically to see which ones I can do without before deleting them permanently. If it goes well, I’ll do the same for you.

Storming: K. M. Weiland’s Prairie Dieselpunk

Mish-and-StormingMichelle and I take turns reading to each other, usually at night just before bed. Our reading tastes don’t always line up perfectly, but there’s enough overlap that we rarely have a problem finding a story we’ll both enjoy. It’s rare, however, that any story stirs and maintains our joint enthusiasm with quite the barrel-rolling intensity of K. M. Weiland’s Storming. Read More→

Characterologically Speaking

Fiction is the art of creating selves. We may draw from life, using people we know as models. We may build a character from the raw material of personal experience, creating more or less autobiographical children through whom we can live more dangerously and authentically than seems…advisable in the world where we need to hold down a day job. We may even find ourselves tempted to borrow a character who has outlived his or her copyright or who, like Scheherezade or Red Riding Hood, has always belonged to all of us. Read More→

Advice for New Writers in an Age of Interactivity

One result of the dominance of social media is what I’ll call the socialization of creative activity and an escalation in the need for immediate feedback. It has always been (and it remains) a good idea to write a first draft in solitude, to create an entire work that stands on its own, though it may toddle at first. Once you have a complete manuscript, sure, expose it to a few trusted souls. But your first readers, your alphas, need to be people you trust, people who care about you as a writer. Read More→

Projects for 2016

iron in the fireMichelle tagged me in a Facebook post recently, challenging me to list a project every day for seven days and to nominate another person each day to do the same. These are my irons in the fire for 2016: Read More→

Unabashed Shamanism ~ Martin Case and A Brief History

A Brief History: A Collection of Great Dance Songs by Martin Case

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Martin Case has been building musical floors under the feet of Boston dancers for a while now – floors supported by an eclecticism that girds the globe, from the cramped North American apartment complex of “Dispute” to “Thailand Outdoors” with its hectic, techno-Thai suspension of disbelief Read More→

Read 100 Books in 2016?

K. M. Weiland, author of Storming and helpful connector of dots for fellow writers and readers, has issued a challenge and offered a reward for those who can meet it. Read a hundred books this year and get stuff for free.

She’s offering an electronic copy of one of her books for completing the challenge. Everyone who completes the challenge will also be entered into a drawing to win a signed paperback of one of her books. Read More→