Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Wee Tale of the Season

Samhain-tide is a time of great majik. The ancients knew it but we modern folk have forgotten and downplayed it, but we have not changed it. Oh, Christianity has changed the name, to Halloween, and merchandisers have turned it into yet another lucrative venture for themselves, but they have not changed its essence. It is still Samhain (pronounced SOW-in). It is the time of the year when the veils between this world and the next thin almost to nothingness and those who live in one freely interact with those in the other.
Elizabeth Rowan Keith has written a delightful and intriguing tale of what can happen at this special time of year. This wee tale - only some 1200 words long - will involve you and make you shudder, just as any good Halloween story should. Just keep in mind, though, that this could happen.
You can judge for yourselves by going to It will soon also be available on for the Kindle. Links to both are on the November First Publications website.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Su Kane and the Revolting Animals

When we think of bikers (the ones riding big, roaring motorcycles), we usually envision large, coarse, hairy, tattooed, barely literate brutes who care only about booze, bikes, and broads. Usually. There are exceptions, but Hollywood has done a remarkable job of embedding the Hells Angels image into our psyches.

The trouble is that, like most things Hollywood puts out, it’s not universally true. Case in point: the Revolting Animals Motorcycle Club in the UK (yes, even the civilized Brits have their biker gangs, and some of those are outlaws). Imagine a large, bearish, hirsute man who is leader of one of these packs of bikers. Easy to do, yes? Now, imagine this man crying as he tenderly holds a newborn kitten who has just been brutalized and left for dead by one of the “civilized” members of society. There’s a bit of a cognitive dissonance there, isn’t there? I mean, in Hollywood, it would be the biker doing the brutalizing and the upright citizen saving the kitten.

Only this isn’t Hollywood. This is real life, the kind most of us live. And the story is true. The biker is named Cerbarus and he is the leader of the Revolting Animals Motorcycle Club. He and his fellow Revolting Animals travel the west midlands of England rescuing animals, domestic or wild, that have been victimized by humanity’s inhumanities.

Independent author Gary Weston grew up in the Black Country in the west midlands of England, home territory of the Revolting Animals. He knows the members and their activities on behalf of animals and has written two books about the club that are entertaining, real life, and compelling reading. Weston has a narrative flow such as one would find sitting around a campfire listening to a tribal elder weave hiser tales of Spirits and men and gods. Both are easy reads told in the words of the characters. These are real people and Weston portrays them as they are, language and all.

Starlight Army, the first in the series, tells how Su Kane, then a 15-year-old girl who had a life-long love of animals, met and became part of the Revolting Animals and befriends the remarkable Abbey Jones and the irrepressible Uncle Garf.

Although Kane is one of the central characters and the book begins with her risking her own life at age 11 to rescue a drowning kitten, the book isn’t about her. It’s about the Revolting Animals and why they do the things they do. It’s really about a group of humans banding together to help the helpless and speak for those who cannot. It’s about more than power or money or prestige—much more.

"There is a dark and hidden war going on all around the world. It is a war of cruelty against animals and it is happening right here and right now. Su Kane and the Starlight Army ride out with the Revolting Animals Motorcycle Club to fight for those who share our planet but have no voice. Join Su Kane on her journey from a girl into womanhood as she realizes people who care CAN make a difference. Royalties go to the PDSA (Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals) towards their new animal hospital," Weston said.

Then we meet The Amazing Abbey Jones. I'll let you decide for yourselves what makes this young Englishwoman truly amazing, besides also being one of the Revolting Animals and perhaps Su Kane's best friend. All I'll reveal here is what Weston said about her: "Fifteen-year-old Abbey Jones is a pencil thickness shy of six feet tall with a body a pro wrestler would be proud of. Never knowing a single day of love or kindness, Abbey escapes her tragic life and embarks on a journey of action-packed adventure and self-discovery. This is NOT a kids' book. Okay FOR ADULTS and YOUNG ADULTS."

If you care about animals, or just like a good real-life story, check these two out. You can find Starlight Army on Smashwords or Amazon for the Kindle. The Amazing Abbey Jones is also available on either Smashwords or Amazon.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

What It's All About

   Writing that first entry is often torture. Hels, writing that first line or paragraph of any story is often comparable—in the writer's mind, at least—to being waterboarded.
    I'm not belittling or condoning any form of torture—and that is all that waterboarding is—so much as pointing out how some writers struggle for a lead, for those magic words that willl entice and beguile the reader to read on until the last period has been dropped. This is particularly true for those writers who are working on deadline—all those hapless reporters out there.
    We've spent hours or days, or even longer, researching and interviewing and chasing people and our heads are full of the story. It's one hour and ticking until presstime, and all we have to do is put all that research, interviews, and the rest into a comprehensive and coherent piece that will do whatever it is we want it to do to the reader. We know what and how the meat of the story is going to go, and a summary will usually suffice as an ending. But it's the lead—those crucial first few words—that we often agonize over.
    And that's really what the first entry into a new blog is: a lead, a reason for the reader to not only read the rest of the entry but to take hiser time to keep coming back for more.
    So, this is my lead, then. Did it work? Will you see this through to the last period? More importantly, will you be back? Will you, like Oliver Twist to Fagin, hold up your empty bowl and implore, "Please, sir, may I have some more?" I obviously don't know, but I do hope so.
    I suppose I should tell you what I envision this blog as being—and, more importantly, what I see it as not being. As it says in the header, this is a blog by and about writers and their craft. Here, I shall write about how to write and mistakes to avoid. I'll use my Editor's Voice from time to time because I am passionate about writing and the proper use of one's language. The rules I shall discuss will apply mostly to the English language, and specifically to American English—other languages have their own rules and I'll let their experts deal with them. English is complex enough and is so casually and routinely slaughtered that those of us who care about such things have quite enough to do just dealing with those.
    It won't be just dull English lessons, though. I also plan to talk about certain books—particularly my own, of course, and those of some other writers whom I know or admire, like Suzy Stewart Dubot or Gary Weston, Anna Scott Graham, Dr. Elizabeth Rowan Keith, and a great many others. In fact, I plan on asking some of these authors to write an entry or two here. I see this as a form of cooperative for writers, specifically Indie Writers, but I'll certainly not turn a print author aside. I mean, if Rowling or Kathy Reich or Grisham want to share some of their experiences with me, I'll welcome them warmly.
    I'm sure other ideas will come up from time to time, as with any good blog, but you have the gist of it. There are certain things it will not be. It won't be a celebration of me. It won't be to brag about my accomplishments or exploits. Any part of my past I reveal will be as part of a larger issue and not just to show what a great guy I am. It will not be a political or religious bandstand—your political and religious beliefs are your own and you are welcome to them so long as you accord others the same right. So no campaigning for any candidate or issue not directly involving the art and craft of writing, and no religious dogma or proselytizing.
    That's what I see this blog as being: simply another place writers and those who sincerely want to be writers can get together, share their knowledge, and just hang out.
    So, have you stayed with me this far? Did my lead work? I hope so, and I hope to see you back when you can. Oh, and one more thing: like so many other indie authors, I have a day job—well, night job, actually, but the idea's the same—so don't look for daily entries or even regularly occurring entries. It ain't gonna' happen. How often will I make entries? Dunno, so you're just gonna' have to keep coming back.
    I suppose I should talk about some conventions I use that may deviate from "normal" English. For one thing, I try to make my words gender-free; that is, I use words such as "hiser," "himer," or "hesh" instead of the masculine his, him, or he to eliminate any gender bias - unless I happen to be talking about someone who actually is male. Same applies to strictly female pronouns, and the cumbersome he/she, or he or she or, even worse, it. I want my writing and this blog to be all-inclusive, y'see, and this is my way of helping it be that.
   So, let me hear from you. I always enjoy reading others' ideas and opinions. I may not agree, but I do like reading them. Just remember: be polite and respectful.