Henry Miller Once Said,

“Work on one thing at a time until finished.” And I sorta-kinda follow that advice. It depends on the definition of “thing” which most people would take to mean a writing project like a novel, short story, screen play, or any written work of fiction or non-fiction.

Yeah, sure, but when does a writer’s idea for a writing project actually achieve a state of thingness? It is a well-known fact that muses inspire writers with a blockbuster idea every week of the year. These ideas excite the mind to various degrees and some begin to grow into an embryotic story and some eventually become written to some degree – meaning that a lot of story ideas never get realized, never even get their own desktop file. But let’s say that a writing project achieves thingness when the main characters, the setting, and a situation are chosen, and at least an introductory scene is composed. If that’s the measure of thingness then I have to admit I’m Mr. Miller’s prime rule breaker. Continue reading

Magnum Opus Nullus

After JM returned from his Swiss trip he put in extra effort and time to finish Storybook Land’s sixth story (The Tarzana Treehouse). His intent was to finish that story, take a recess from writing children’s stories and create his magnum opus. It was to be a three-act play based on real people and real events in his eventful life. Well, the recess bell never sounded, or the playground had turned barren. In any case and after pounding the recess metaphor lifeless, he found himself without a hint of how to write it. Continue reading

Pay Attention! will be your desperate cry

“Through the eyes of a child God sees us as we really are.” Tonton Jim said this in a moment of longing to be deeply wise. I referred him to a previous article on pithy sayings, but did pause to consider what he’d said. I also suggested that TJ leave out the adverb ‘really’ which only betrays  his desperate longing to sound really, really profundo. But TJ is right: a child’s vision can be brutally sharp.

I did have an occasion to be seen through the eyes of a child when I was a fourth-grade teacher. In an Open Court reading anthology, there was a free verse poem enjoyable enough in its original form. With some of its nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs removed it served as a fill-in-the-blanks poem which the students could use to create their own poems about whatever subject interested them. One bright and bold girl (a favorite student) choose to write about her teacher, me. Continue reading

Mary Tomita and Her Son Toyoji

Available at Amazon. Click on the book’s title at the end of the post.

When I first met Toyoji he was known by his first name, Peter (his brother’s name was Paul). We were friends from the sixth grade until the summer of ’68 when I moved from Oakland to San Diego. But by then, his commitment to music had begun to take up much of his time (his talent had been noticed and he played in what I think was called the San Francisco Bay Area Youth Orchestra).

In junior high we went to the same parties and in ninth grade we joined the Sea Scouts. It was great. Along with learning all the nautical type stuff and playing with heavy machinery, Continue reading

A Goldmine of Gadzookery; Pithiness is a Virtue

My friend, Wali Lewis, took this photo. He lives in Utah now.

In doing research for the Disneyland stories, J. M. has been reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and has discovered that Mark Twain’s dialogue and prose is a goldmine of archaic expressions and words. I shall borrow many nuggets from that source. One of the slang expressions used by the boys is, “gay”.

Has the modern definition of “gay” made its old usage archaic? Of course, most everyone nowadays titters when a not so old movie is mentioned: Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. I only ask because Mr. Twain has Huck Finn (whose diction is always rough and ungrammatical) use the word “gay” the same way as “bully” would’ve been in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Just before it became the polite way of referring to homosexuals, “gay” simply meant the same as joyful or elated. However, young Mr. Finn seems to be using the word in a different sense than joyful. Witness the difference: “Tom, that would be ever so joyful.” Versus, “Tom, that would be ever so bully.” If Huck had been around in my teenage years, he would’ve said, “Tom, that’s going to be so bitchin.” (I suspect the reason we liked using that superlative is because it sounded similar to the word, “bitch” which had a vaguely dirty word quality to it.) Continue reading

Disneyland, the Novelette, part 4

The Peter Pan character sitting on an island in the dark.

The Kingdom of Authorial Ghosts novelette is done. J. M. Barrie is the last authorial ghost to guide my little hero through his version of the dark ride which in the land-of-the-living Disneyland is called Peter Pan’s Flight. Mr. Carroll and Mr. Grahame join him, but not Alice or Mouse. I’ve read the 1904 play and the 1911 novel but haven’t yet finished a biography by Lisa Chaney, entitled Hide and Seek with Angels. Presently I’m with the faction advocating that the Peter Pan character is based on J. M. Barrie’s brother, David, and not on Peter Llewelyn. But, maybe I’ll change my mind and my novelette (presently just under 14,000 words) after I finish the bio or at least the chapters on the Llewelyn family. Continue reading

Odds and Ends and Thinking Out Loud

Back in the fall of 2016 I ran two ad campaigns on Amazon for the first two MGSAC books. Each of the campaigns had over a half million impressions. (Impressions are small ads for my book on an Amazon web page.) Out of those impressions one book’s ad fished in about 1500 clicks and the other, 500. Out of those clicks that took interested prospects to my Amazon MGSAC book pages, a handful of people bought my book. Wound up spending about $600 to earn $16.24 and one reader’s review. Continue reading

No Reviews; No Promotion; No Readers; No Reviews… ad infinitum

Book Bub, Fussy Librarian, Heading 1 SEO Click bait

It seems to work this way for an e-book author who wants readers (it would be nice if they also bought a book, but the author would gladly lend anyone a Kindle copy): First the e-book has to be read by people willing to write a review for the Amazon book store. Some of the book promoting websites like BookBub demand a book have a dozen or so reader reviews. Most of the e-books done by indie authors have these. However, Amazon rules forbid authors from paying individuals to review their book. I suspect quite a few of these indie authors paid, badgered, traded favors for five star reviews, and I also suspect that Amazon turns a blind eye to these many acts of scofflawlessness (the author just made that word up) because how would they even begin to police it? Continue reading

Spin a Yarn Squiggle Contest

This photo struck me as having a story behind it – or rather an opportunity to spin a yarn about it. Such an activity could be described, by some, as an elaborate Create-a-Caption for this Photo contest. But I think, maybe, it’s more like a squiggle contest.

A few weeks ago, during a hike with old friends, Ed Roxburgh brought up a name from our distant childhood past, Tom Hatten, who hosted a southern Californian children’s show. Every weekday afternoon, in between the Popeye cartoons, he conducted the squiggle contest. For those who didn’t grow up within the broadcast signal of KTLA (based in L. A. with reception in Continue reading