Open Wounds

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Indie Excellence Gone Bzrk

2012 Indie Excellence AwardsI’ve been away in my mind for the last two weeks. That’s what bloggers say when they’ve been away from their blog – at least that’s what this blogger says. Yes, I am a blogger. I’m surprised to see myself write this but it’s true.

So, I’ve been busy with my day job and putting words on paper for my new book – more day job than new book but I have clocked in my first  100 pages so I’m pleased.

I’m in Nashville right now, at a Starbucks Coffee mixing with the mall rats from across the street’s giant Greenhills Mall and just visited Parnassus Books (in a small mall on my side of the street)  – an awesome indie with a saleswoman who was nice enough to take two copies of Open Wounds and put them on the shelf and consider stocking them – consider, I can ask no more.

It helped that my book has just been announced (no megaphone or loudspeaker, just a quiet facebook mention from my beloved publicist Julie Schoerke at JKSCommunications) as a finalist in the historical fiction category of the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards. I’m very excited, especially since I’d completely forgotten that I’d entered my book in the contest. Julie had recommended that I do so and I’m glad I did.

So I was at Parnassus looking for Michael Grant’s Bzrk and they had the book (many indies have not, I’ve asked at five so far) but only at the warehouse. I couldn’t buy it because after the conference I’m presenting at is over tomorrow I’m heading home and the store is out of the way (two bus rides for this writer and an hours travel). But you can bet they’ll have it stocked on the floor tomorrow. My search for a non-Barnes and Noble purchase of Bzrk goes on…

Oh, but I did buy a book while there (I have to support the indies!). I bought the new Stephen King book in the Dark Tower Series – my favorite books from Mr. King.

Now it’s off to the bus stop and back to the Opryland convention center where workshops on LGBT Issues, Teambuilding, and Cultural Competence await me.

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Z is for Zeus

Do you believe in God(s) ? It’s an interesting question and one I find in my reading that few authors deal with. Maybe it’s just the books I’m choosing.

Recently I read Gone, by Michael Grant and although it’s a real page turner one of the things that struck me (besides being a bit scared of the darkness inside, I’m not afraid to admit it!) was how several of the characters had faith in God (a male it seemed and organized Christian God). It wasn’t a large part of the book but it was part of the fabric of the universe for the main characters. What happened to them challenged some of their faith in a God. It made sense for that town and those characters but I am so unused to a discussion of God that it stood out for me.

My son wants to read Gone (after reading The Magnificent Twelve he thinks Michael Grant is the funniest writer in the universe) but we won’t let him. He’s very upset about this as he’s turning 10 in three days and has read Ship Breaker (my fault), The Hunger Games (my fault – I’m a bad Daddy), and all the Harry Potter books (okay – now he earned the right to read them so back off!). My wife, who is infinitely more wise than me, is the one who put her foot down and said no, not now, to Gone.

You see in our community a boy recently died. He was thirteen years old. The whole story is not known as we do not know the family well, but we had been to their home a couple of times with other families for school social events. The boy got an infection that turned into meningitis and he died. It all happened in one week and I am still shaking a bit about it because, as a parent, my first thought was – what if this happened to my son? These kinds of things make you question God(s)/Goddess(es) and faith. My son barely remembered the boy as it had been a few years since they’d last seen each other and the boy was three years older. My son seemed okay with the news. It seemed to pass by him and through him with only a small ripple. He was more concerned for us then himself, it seemed.

So in Gone (this is not a spoiler as it happens on page one) everyone over the age of 14 poofs – disappears and the world that Michael Grant creates is scary and fascinating. But not right now for my son. No poofs. Maybe next year or in the fall with some time and perspective. It is impossible to answer the question, why did a child die? How do you find a reason for that?

The book I’m working on now is about God, tangentially. It is about loss of faith and maybe (I don’t know yet how it will work out) gaining of faith back. It’s a real challenge for me as I was born a Jew, brought up Methodist, tried some Catholicism (youth groups have girls in them and I was a teenager but I really did go on that retreat to ask some questions of the priest – which I did. For example: Why do you say there’s only one God if there’s a father, son, and holy ghost? Isn’t that three? And what about the virgin Mary? What’s up with that? I was not popular and I did not get a concrete answer. I digress.), wandered into paganism, studied Buddhism and Hinduism and presently believe in a higher cosmic spirit of the feminine kind.

What I love about Greek mythology and all polytheistic practices is the ability to have all these different aspects of the great cosmic soul. Zeus of the lightning bolts needs all the other Gods and Goddesses to balance him out. They balance each other, yin and yang, water and fire, a satvic existence on the higher plane. without balance there is chaos. And yet in our lives, there is chaos. It seems in one way or another, in one corner of the world or another, with violence and death there is chaos. There are plateaus of balance and seemingly random acts of chaos. It makes me wonder as a parent and it makes me wonder as a human and it makes me wonder as a writer.

This is my last post on the A-Z challenge and I’ve made it through 26 posts relating to or pertaining to things that are Greek, at least from my perspective. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey even half as much as I have.


Deimos kai Phobos (Horror and Fear)

Deimos and Phobos are the moons of Mars – named after the sons of the Greek god Ares (Roman Mars). It seems so many things about Mars are war-like or resonate with the actions of war.  Deimos means horror and Phobos means fear in Greek. I never knew this.

John Carter is of Earth and Mars and he is war-like as are all the Martians in the John Carter stories of Edgar Rice Boroughs. I’m drifting a bit but lets see where it goes.

How can war, something that is both horrific and to be afraid of, also be romanticized? It seems every generation plays with these two pieces of the war puzzle. Isn’t that what video games do for us today – allow us to play at warfare without getting hurt? I struggle with this as a writer who writes about war.

Today the weapons used in warfare are taken for granted – explosives, automatic weapons, missiles. We are used to them in a sense. They are on TV. They are on our visual radar. Can you image how terrifying it was to see them for the first time? The first time seeing an armored tank, a flamethrower, a mortar, a machine gun, large artillery shells and barrages that would make the earth shake,  your ears bleed – that could stop your heart from beating? My chest tightens just thinking about it.

I wonder about this as a reader who reads about war – fantasy, science fiction, historical, non-fiction – and a writer who writes about it.


Bellerophontes ta grammata (Bellerophontic letter)

Any time you can use the word Bellerophontic in a sentence is a good day.

This was said by King Proetus who wanted to kill Bellerophon when he visited his home because Bellerophon had tried to violate his wife. But it would have been bad manners to kill a guest. So Proetus sends Bellerophon to his father in-law, King Lobates, as a messenger with a sealed letter to deliver. The letter  in a folded tablet says, “Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter.”

So that’s how you do it.

Isn’t that a great idea for a plot? Much harder to do than defriending someone on Facebook but easily more satisfying.

Just how many plots are there to choose from? This is a question that’s been floating around the writing universe for a long long time.

So I looked it up. The oldest source I could find said that there was either 36 or 37 plots, and the book it comes from is a “French book published in 1916 as “The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations” by Georges Polti”.

Maybe we better all take a look.  And while you’re at it beware of people asking you to deliver sealed letters in folded tablet form, in case you’ve got a history and it bellerophontic.

That was awkward but I think it worked.

You give it a try. Write a sentence with bellerophontic in it. See how it sounds.


Api tou heliou metastethi (Stand a little out of my sun.)

It’s all Greek to me.

This is my first post on the A-Z challenge and I’ve got my own theme for the month that comes from the book I’m working on now that takes place in 1914 England where Greek and Latin ruled as education in the “classics”. How each of these sayings deals with writers today will be my own stretch. So stop by and see what I come up with.

Api tou heliou metastethi (Stand a little out of my sun.)

So replies Diogenes the Cynic when asked by Alexander the Great if he had any wish he could fulfill. You gotta love that with a rim-shot for punctuation.

Something I recently overheard from a writer at a conference who was published with a big house when asked about the kind of support and publicity campaign she was receiving: “Oh it’s great except they always put me next to the (choose your megastar writer – there are only a few) so I might as well not even be there.”

Me I like being next to the megastars. At Charlottesville, being next to Alma Katsu (The Taker) on a panel meant people on her line (long line) sometimes drifted over to my line when they finished having her sign their book. Hey. You gotta start somewhere. Alma is a very cool writer whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet twice at two different conferences. I can stand in her shadow any day, ’cause one person’s shadow is another person’s sun.

Where is Diogenes when you need him?