Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hang Time

Haven't had much to report recently. Feeling queasy today, so came home from work and tried to calm the churning waves. Someone mentioned it might be the weather-- yeah, with all the rain we've been having, I could be seasick! It's a shame, because Hallie Ephron will be at the Chelmsford Library tonight, to give a talk on mystery writing. I met her at the Crime Bake convention last Fall- she's very nice and helpful to those up-and-coming writers with questions. She's got some books out, and she writes the mystery reviews for the Boston Globe. Dang that I may have to miss it.

Did go to the Tyngsboro Writer's Group on Monday. One of them jokingly asked me why I hadn't had a story published in the last two weeks. I did feel that I was bombarding my network with story publication announcements. Happy to be doing so, frankly.

I did get a reply to a query on one of my stories that's been in a queue for months. The editor responded that it's in the "maybe" pile. Cool. Let's hope April brings more sales.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Need More Stories

So I've got to buckle down and get at lest two more stories written and submitted by the end of next month. That's the deadline for this year's Al Blanchard Award from the folks at Crime Bake. It would be a good contest to win, so I'm going to try writing something to spec.

All they require is that the story be by a New England author or set in New England. No problem. It can be mystery, thriller, caper, and a few other subcategories, as long as it's crime-related.

So wish me luck. Man, I gotta get started...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Well, I won a Kindle at a company raffle last week, and rather than keep it, I'm looking to sell it. So call me a Luddite, or call me in need of cash, but there it is.

Yes, they're cool, but I'm Old School and prefer books. You can tuck a paperback in your pocket. If you drop a book, you pick it up, unbroken. You can see instantly how far along you are, and how much is left. And I can borrow most books from the (free) library, rather than paying.

And I stare at a screen all day at work. A few pages of a book are always nice, and do I really need another electronic gizmo in my life?

Geez, I had a simple cell phone, and paid a hundred bucks a year for us to make calls. Now the whole family has a phone that takes pictures and pays pretty tunes, and I pay over $1200 a year. Progress... People at my gym spend their whole time yakking on cellphones-- and loudly, while I'm trying to tune them out. Maybe an Ipod? Wait, no!

Our TV has FOUR remotes, and I still can't turn the damn thing on after taking out a DVD. My wife presses a series of buttons, switching from one to another, and somehow I'm supposed to keep track.

Guess I'm just a cranky old man, but I do remember Isaac Asimov's "magic cassette". After describing all the wonders of this device, it was revealed to be-- a book!
I love them, I read them, I write them. I may be the last generation who does. Apres moi, les Twitterers. None of whom will have anything important to say that will last down the centuries. Sad, so sad.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Turned around a story today and sent it back out, after it's first rejection. There may be more, but it will find a home. Spread your wings, little story, and find a good editor.

Didn't get any other writing done-- was editing for other people. Edited a story for one writer and two novel chapters for another. Gotta get something else out for me at some point!

And how about that first day of Spring yesterday? Whooo! Perfect, sunny, and warm. I got outside and really enjoyed seeing Mr. Sun again. He's been away too long.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another Story Published

Wow- a great St. Patrick's Day today.
My story "The Great Snipe Hunt" is newly published at New Myths:

And a section for me in Biographies as well, answering a few questions about my likes and the writing process.

This makes three stories currently out. Cool beans!

This latest one plays with language, so be ready for something completely different.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

Yesterday was the Ides of March (anniversary of when Caesar was killed), tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. Read something about the Irish, like "How the Irish Saved Civilization" by Thomas Cahill, or "The Irish Game" about art theft, by Matthew Hart.
Or anything by James Joyce.

If you listen to Irish music, try the Clancy Brothers, but don't hear anything by "Celtic Thunder". They were on TV, and I retched when they broke into a Beach Boys song, complete with chubby young ladies doing the pony in miniskirts and go-go boots. Celtic it ain't. Schmaltz it is.

Drink a Guinness to peace- in Ireland and the world.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Another story sold

Got a great gift for my birthday yesterday-- another short story sale. My tale "The Great Snipe Hunt" is a work that plays with language, similar to what was done by Lewis Carroll and James Joyce. It was one I mentioned in a previous note, where a number of editors commented on how well-written, beautiful, and clever it was, but didn't buy it.

So now someone has recognized that it should be pubished. Thanks to Scott T Barnes, editor of New Myths, for knowing a good story when he sees it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lose vs loose usage

“Use proper English, you’re regarded as a freak...”

Character of Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady

At the risk of “getting my freak on” (!) I’d like to help with a language problem that is cropping up with ever-increasing frequency: the difference between “lose” and “loose”. As evidenced by the common and multitudinous misuse of these words in all their forms, this simple issue is evidently quite a poser for most people, so I’m here to help.

Perhaps the problem stems from how close the words are in spelling and sound. A zee sound versus an ess, but both with a long double o, for an oooo sound. One tiny extra o causes so much trouble.

With help from our language friend, the dictionary:

Lose has a relation to failing: fail to retain something, or failing to have, get, catch, win

Loose has a relation to free and unbound, something not strict, taut, exact, or precise. It also means “Lax, as the bowels” - that alone should make the difference clear. It also means "sexually promiscuous” or to “let fly”. (See why the dictionary can be fun?)

In the spirit of humorist Dave Barry’s “Ask Mr. Language Person”, here’s a good example:
After losing our loose bowels, our loose louses loosed loose arrows at the lost losers on the loose.

Now THAT’S proper English. Hope that clears it up.

But seriously, the real difference is important. Yes, the English language is difficult to learn and use properly, and maddeningly inconsistent in spelling. When William Shakespeare, the foremost writer in the language, reportedly spells his name six different ways, you know there’s a problem. Yet some rules are simple. But with the proliferation of email, texting and blogging, there are billions of words being transmitted without the benefit of any editing, and the mistake of using lose for loose and vice-versa is all too common.

Writers know it’s important to communicate properly, not sloppily. We study proper usage and train ourselves to always do gooder (whoops, better). “Aw, don’t be such a nitpicker,” you might say. Well, as Mark Twain quipped, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug.”

There may be a time when using words improperly could be costly- suppose a person was interviewing and misused a common word or phrase, and was to lose entry into a good school or to lose an opportunity for a good job. Just saying...

Reading in a Digital Age

Great article by the noted Sven Birkerts, on how reading novels matters to our brain and mental processing of our life, and how the digital age is altering that. (Thanks to Matt Power for the tip!)

Lots of food for thought here.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


This is the year for connecting with people from my past that I've lost touch with. Amazing that it's increasing, that people are coming out of the woodwork.

It started with a person here and there. LinkedIn is a good source, and you can search for names, so got a few from that.

Then out of the blue, got a note from someone I went to high school with. She's organizing our 35th school reunion, and got me to agree to make the 8-hour northeast journey to the wilds of Aroostook County, Maine this coming Summer. Should be interesting to see people I only knew for a few years, who then had lives afterward. I'd been listed as missing, as they didn't know how to contact me, then someone found my website. It pays to advertise.

And I found someone else by their website. He became a comedian, and lives on the West Coast. Dropped him a line to say hi.

And recently, got contacted by someone I went to college with, and haven't seen in 30 years!

It's all accelerated in the last few weeks. Is someone trying to tell me something?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Another Story out

Kasma magazine has published my latest story, at:

Enjoy- It's a fun tale of the Apocalypse. The editor really liked it, so read his comments in From the Editor.

Someone had once commented here that I wasn't really a writer. Well, this makes my tenth published story. I also wrote three new ones this last month. Pretty good output from a non-writer.