News and Notices from the Writing Trenches #140…

Calling all horror/fantasy writers. I saw an old movie recently. Although it was really bad, bad enough that I don’t remember the title, I found it entertaining. At the end the heroine buries pages of some demonic how-to book in the Bonneville Salt Flats to keep a warlock safely stashed away in hell. What’s that about? I’d never heard of salt being good for stopping evil magic. Anyone out there care to educate me? Does it work? I can think of several places to use it in politics—for example, burying a copy of the Citizens United decision. Help me out here. The first person that gives me a satisfactory explanation before the next Friday 13th (October 13, 2017) will receive a free copy of Gaia and the Goliaths. Same for sending me the title of the movie. Use my contact page and put “Salt of the Earth” in the subject line.

Movies based on books. They’re often a cut above the usual Hollywood fare—steaks compared to hamburgers, if you will. Yes, of course I’m biased. Two notable ones this year were Hidden Figures and Lion. Don’t miss them. Who’s the most represented author on the silver screen? I’d venture it’s Phillip K. Dick. To see the entire list, just google “Phillip K. Dick Movies.” You’ll be surprised.

Plots and themes. Stephen King puts plot above theme; I’m the reverse. For me, themes in a work of fiction make an ordinary story become extraordinary. Woven in and around the plot, they put meat on the bones of the latter. Consider Then She Was Born by Cristiano Gentili, a book I’m currently reviewing. The plot is the quietly intense story of an African child. The theme is the horrific fate of albino children in Africa. I suppose you could have the first without the second, but that plot wouldn’t mean much without the theme. I hate to say Stephen King is wrong, but he is in this case. Or he just thinks that nothing serious sells. Another book with important themes, Hidden Figures, was mentioned above. Such books enrich my reading life—they will enrich yours too.

Articles about writing and the book business. Most of these would appeal to readers and writers alike. Recent ones deal with censorship, misleading stats in book sales figures, the new return to apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and tomorrow’s article about the danger of gleaning an author’s opinion from what a character says. New articles generally appear every Thursday. They are archived in the blog archive “Writing.” I might repeat some of these during the spring and the summer like I did a few years ago. Writers go on vacations too.

More golden nuggets. You’re reading this because you’ve discovered my blog with its variety of articles (or you’re just looking for news and notices about books and the book business, which is OK too). The articles mentioned above are short—generally 500 to 1000 words—but I’m even less verbose on Facebook. The content there on my author page complements the content here. Take a gander: “Like” the page or the comments. Of course, you can “like” the articles here too…and share them with friends and relatives. And thank you for visiting either this blog or my Facebook page. Being an educated citizen is more than just reading books.

What I’m working on. I love to write. In the last few months, you’ve seen me offer a blitz of free short stories (they’re stored in the blog archive “Steve’s Shorts” if they haven’t been PDF’d so I can offer them for free in that way—see the list on the webpage “Free Stuff & Contests”). Where are the novels? Two are featured below, one already published and the other about to be published. I also am putting finishing touches on my post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Oasis Redux—see the excerpt here. We’re thinking about what to do with the YA novel The Secret of the Urns, based on the short story “Marcello and Me” (see Pasodobles in a Quantum Stringscape). And I’ve begun Mary Jo Melendez #3, making that little series (two books) into a trilogy. You can see that no one has taken my laptop away from me yet.

Did you miss it? Gaia and the Goliaths, #7 in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series,” is now published. The entire series is now available on Smashwords and all its associated retailers and lending associates. #2 in the series, Angels Need Not Apply, is on sale at Smashwords until March 31—use coupon code KL38P when you check out. Of course, the entire series is also available on Amazon.

The British are coming. As a bow to Agatha Christie and other British mystery writers, Scotland Yard Inspector Esther Brookstone will soon acquire a starring role in Rembrandt’s Angel. She appeared in The Collector, but this feisty woman soon demanded her own novel. Of course, I was only too happy to oblige. I grew up enjoying Agatha Christie’s books and characters and graduated to other British authors. Esther teams up with Interpol agent Bastiann van Coevorden, who also had a secondary role in previous novels, most notably Aristocrats and Assassins. He’s Poirot to Esther’s Miss Marple, and both are a lot more active than Christie’s famous sleuths. Together they pursue dealers in stolen art; that pursuit leads to an evil conspiracy. This book is as much thriller as mystery and suspense. It will be released this spring by Penmore Press. You can check out some other books in Penmore’s catalog here.

On a diet. No, not me. My website. Check it out. I’ve pared it down and made the webpages easier to read. Web gurus are always offering to make it glitzier. Some have even insulted me by saying that it’s old-fashioned and I should remodel—for multiple hundreds of dollars. It’s an original and professional design, by the way, not stock WordPress templates, done by my friends at Monkey C Media.

Today I guess anything is old-fashioned if it’s ten-years-old or more. Pox on their house! I’m partial to traditional things. I wear a Hanna Hat in the winter—perfect for my balding crown—and make my nighttime post-dinner coffee more interesting with twelve-year-old Jameson. Is that a crime? I guess I should put on the home page “Serving You Since 2006!” to put me on a par with all those venerable institutions I love, including bookstores specializing in used books.

Funny, though: When I review my book list, those early titles seem as fresh as they were when I wrote them. The themes in the very first book, Full Medical, are still current ones today—the healthcare crisis and cloning. So, web gurus, take that!

In libris libertas!


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