Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Post (of the year)


Wow, it's been quite a year. I wanted to post something to commemorate the end of the year, and make it, you know, special.

To hell with that. Let's just get on with it and plunge into a shiny brand new year.

First, some reflection.

This time last year, I had just recently arrived back from Iraq, was getting settled back into life in the world.

This time two years ago, I had just buried my father, whom I hadn't seen in years, which only made performing these final duties all the more daunting.

But this next year, I'm sure, will prove to be a wonderful and fascinating time. And, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, could be our final full year. To that I say, if some big meteor is going to plow into Earth and wipe out most of our civilization, I plan to be outside and as close to the point of impact as possible. Why suffer through the aftermath? I been to nearly all corners of the Earth in my time, and I've seen (and sometimes participated in) devastation and ruin of entire cultures. I don't need to see it again.

But enough gloom and doom. I consider 2010 to be a good year. This year I completed my first novel-length work in a genre I had not previously written much in--and discovered I liked it! I still have numerous other ideas in progress and continue to work on them. I don't about others, but my only problem with writing is finding enough time and energy to put all my thoughts down. I have more ideas scripted out or outlined than I believe I can write in my lifetime.

2011 will be a great year. I'm hoping it will be even better than this year. I am already started on my next novel in what will become a series from my first novel "Lovestruck Succubus." The next novel is tentatively named "Demon(s) among Wolves" and promises to be filled with even more suspense and action, although less erotica. Sorry folks I can't just write in the erotica without a place. In fact, I'm already outlining a third and final novel in this series. The next two novels might even upset some folks as at least one of my characters will die, the point of view will change, and all-out war will ensue by the end.

I've had a few requests for some work I had started years ago and it has been sitting for awhile. So for all of you who like to reading mystery in the vein of Janet Evanovich's "Stephanie Plum," I will delve back into my mystery/suspense novel tentatively titled "Alabama Slammer" featuring wisenheimer, self-deprecating, less-than perfect lead character, Katherine (Kat) McKendry and her nemesis, Rachel Moore.

So, it's time everybody to burn those Christmas trees where they stand, and ring in the new year!

Wow, late-breaking news! The mail carrier just stopped at our house to deliver 20 author copies of my novel. For those of you in the local area that have been waiting to purchase a signed copy (paperback) of my latest novel, they are now available.



For those interested in a sign copy of my novel "Lovestruck Succubus" just leave a note here, or at my pen name site, http://ellisonjames.blogspot.com or simply email me. I may be running a contest soon to bring in the print version of this novel so keep you eyes open for a chance to win a signed copy of the novel.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

That Old Favorite Christmas Tune

I know, I kind of disappeared there for awhile. But now I'm back with my newest adventure. Let's just say this may, or may not, be true.

So, to keep you guessing, I've decided to tell the story in the form of that old favorite Christmas song, "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." Just imagine the tune as you read the chorus and verse.


Grandma got pulled over by the Po-Po

Driving home from our house Christmas day.
She tried to talk the officer to a warning
But he just shook his head and said "No way."

She was visiting her family
Eating food and drinking wine
But when she got into her auto
She dropped her quaint fa├žade and lost her mind

Grandma got pulled over by the Po-Po
Driving home from our house Christmas day.
She tried to talk the officer to a warning
But he just shook his head and said "No way."


 
Seems she'd taken out a stop sign
And drove her car over a bump
How she drove another mile
We're still shocked, amazed, and truly stumped





It wasn't difficult to find her
Where the police made her park
We just drove the path she left us
Filled with broken glass and her car parts



Chorus

Now she's driving with one headlight
'Cause the other is all gone
Now if you see our Grandma driving
You better run to safety on the lawn.

Chorus x2

There's so much more I could write but will just leave the song where it is for now. Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday. Best wishes for the New year.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Adventures on "The Tube."

Here it is! The long awaited (well, maybe not) video book trailer for "Lovestruck Succubus" a parnormal erotic fantasy (romance, suspence, crime) just posted on youtube yesterday.

Take a look, Tell me what you think.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Stumbling onto Genius


History states that Tea was invented by accident in 2737 b.c. by the great emperor, Shen Nung. He was boiling water outside and some leaves dropped into his kettle. Before he could retrieve them from the boiling water, he saw the water changing color and smelled a sweet aroma. He drank it, and thus began the rise of the popularity of tea.

I'm sure, in real life, tea was likely invented by some poor peasant farmer and presented to the emperor in lieu of some tax or something. Otherwise, it sure seems there were many things invented by rulers and emperors back in the day.

And, by the way, Shen Nung is also credited with teaching the people of china to cultivate hemp (marijuana) to make hempen cloth.

The same holds true in writing. I've written a lot of crap in my day, but occasionally I stumble upon some phrase or thought, purely by accident, that sends my mind into overdrive. These little sparks of inspiration sometimes completely change the direction of a story, or even provide the basis for a new project.

But, here's the problem. How many of you have awaken from some marvelous dream and jumped out of bed trying to find some means of recording the thought your mind can drive the dream away?

Do you keep a notepad and pen by your bed? Do you keep a recorder nearby? Tell me what sparks your muse. I think it is important to have some means of recording thoughts. I would hope that some day I will be remembered like the emperor who got credit for inventing tea, not the poor pauper who, more than likely, actually came up with the thought first.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Problem with Polygamy

I was flipping through the channels one night last week, and happened upon the latest in reality television programming -- Sister Wives.

This show is all about the life inherent drama associated with three (or is it four) women, all living with one man. According to the man, it was not his idea to enter into this lifestyle but his wives's.

On the surface, this might seem like a great gig for the man. But, upon further investigation, I've found some issues with this lifestyle.

First off, I noticed that this family was not swimming in money. They live a rather impoverished life, make their own clothes. I don't think any of the women worked but said they were happy taking care of their multiple children. I can tell you right now, that would never fly in my household!

And then there is the thought of the man's, and women's, marital relations. From the man's point of view I can tell you this. Fantasizing about multiple partners, even if not at the same time, is one thing. But, actually performing these duties over and over with multiple wives makes me believe that quality might give way to quantity. I don't know, maybe it's just me. But I would rather give quality over quantity.

It also seems to me that this situation is skewed toward men. I can understand, from a evolutionary standpoint, why men desire this type of lifestyle. Back when we struggled to populate the world and mortality rates were high, it was advantageous to cultivate far and wide. Plus, this goes a long way in explaining how men became hunter/gatherers. I can imagine maintaining a relationship with a whole harem of women when relatives visited. You know, relatives like Aunt Flo.

It's no wonder men in this situation would leave for weeks at a time in search of "food." yeah, right. I imagine those hunting parties just leaving the family domicile and hanging out on the other side of the mountain with all the other men in commiseration.


And lastly, the one thing I don't understand is that no one ever really talks about a polygamist relationship with one woman and many men. This is proof-positive that women are somehow further along on the evolutionary path then men. Women have developed the intelligence to weigh the good and the bad with this type of relationship and have decided to forgo this for the standard monogamous model. Men, on the other hand, still fantasize about gathering their own little harem to meet their immediate and ongoing sexual (and other) needs. Unfortunately men have not reached that point in their evolutionary process that enables them to think ahead to that time when they must support their harem both emotionally and financially.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Knowing

Matthew knew the day he would die. He knew the love that would be by his side when he died. He'd known since his twelfth birthday when he woke on that spring day, with an epiphany. There was no other way to explain it--he just woke up knowing.

...

What if you knew the day you were going to die. What if you knew your time was limited and you knew how much time you had, exactly, to accomplish whatever it was you wanted with your life?

Would you become depressed and give up, waiting for that fateful day to arrive? Would you jam your life into high gear and try to do as much as possible in the time you have?

Tell me what you think about this.

I thought about this very thing this weekend, and wondered what I would do. I think, in the end, I would try to make the most of the life I have.

What if you were given some divine knowledge as to exactly when, and under what circumstances, the world, as we know it, would end? Would you try to convince others of your knowledge?

Just something to ponder ... discuss.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cold Weather Writing

I awoke this morning to a layer of frost covering my front lawn. "This is writing weather," I thought, and promptly sat down at the computer to write.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong computer--the one with the Internet connection. Before long I was surfing like crazy, checking out all the haps on facebook, twitter, email, my publishing site. Didn't get much writing done.

I sometimes get inspired to write during changes in the weather. If it is a dark and stormy night (no pun intended) I am likely inspired to write something dark and sinister. Or, if I am already engaged in a long-term project, my writing tends to darken from the atmospheric influence.

What about the rest of you writers out there. Does weather have an influence on how or what you write? Do come up with strange new ideas in times of unique or abnormal weather?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Climbing The Charts

My new Novel "Lovestruck Succubus" has climbed all the way to number five on Smashwords.com bestseller (Novel) list and holding at number two in the genre novel listing.

Please help my work climb to number one at smashwords before it is release at all major ebook outlets including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Ipad ibooks by downloading your FREE copy now in any format your computer or reader may support.

Just use the "buy" option and use this code for your FREE copy: QD37X

Please consider leaving a review after reading if you would like. It would help me out and help my new novel climb a little higher on the charts before its debut on the major outlets.

Also, you can earn 50% of my royalties by becoming an affiliate marketer of my book. Several folks have already made more than $2.20 for each one of my books sold through their link. Yes, I am willing to share half of my royalties to those helping to sell my book on Smashwords and drive it up the charts. This will not be as lucrative after the novel's release to the major outlets.

Thanks to all those that have supported me so far and helped this project to be such a success.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Daleville Dan Does Thanksgiving

Daleville Dan awoke in the morn
on that warm thanksgiving day
His sheets were soaked, his brow was wet
his 'lectric bill, he forgot to pay

He went to the fridge in search of some viddles
But the milk had turned to whey
That's ok, said with a smile
The turkey's defrosted, and I like my beer warm anyway


After spending the day drinking warm beer
and now holdin' the turkey over the fryer
He said, "Y'all watch this" as he quickly dropped the bird
and started a big 'ole grease fire

"Now that's a faar, he said nervously
as the flames lapped at his home
and before the fire trucks could come
his single-wide had turned all ash and loam

When the police arrived
the firemen explained, "It's just like Dan's luck
And through it all Daleville Dan was thankful
The flames never reached his truck.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'm sure we all have many things to be thankful of.

Authors, Friends, and Social Media

Since I've recently become an "indie" author-a decision I may later rejoice in, or regret-I've undergone a crash-course in social promotion and self-marketing.

There are many opportunities for the indie author. Although, I believe that, first and foremost, one should concentrate on writing a quality story that is free of grammatical errors and plot holes. I must say this now, before I discuss marketing opportunities, that I had the help of an outstanding editor and new friend-Tammy Parks. I must give her mention here because, even after reading through my own work eight times, yes EIGHT times, she still found typos and spelling errors or missing words.

All I can say is: "She must have some kind of enhanced vision and spidey-sense the way she found all these."

Anyway, here's some of the things I've done in the first week after publication to foster and awareness of my book and increase sales.

The first thing I did was post the news on my blog and on facebook with a coupon one could use to download the book for FREE. Oddly enough, and contrary to my own belief, this fostered zero sales directly related to the blog posting. Sure, I saw an increase in page views and a spike in sample downloads but no firm sales.

Next, I twittered the news, referencing my blog post with the free offer-same thing and no increase in sales.

Next, I issued a news release using PR LOG. Of course, I linked to my book's page and my blog. From this, I saw a spike in page views but not such an increase in sales that I could directly attribute it to the release.

Yesterday I joined Kindleboards and posted in the book bazaar section advertising free copies of my book in exchange for reviews. Almost immediately, downloads went through the roof and sales quickly surpassed double-digit increases within four hours.

My book quickly rose to number ten on the Smashwords best-seller list and is holding there.

So, I would say that I've found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow with Kindleboards. But, keep in mind (I've recently learned this) that ebook marketing is much faster paced than marketing for other formats. An action taken is usually seen in hours instead of days or weeks, and news falls off the end of the world much quicker.

What I mean by this is that one can see an immediate explosion in sales from a new approach but that news is forgotten by the next day. I'm hoping that the sales I've had and all the folks that downloaded the free copy of my book will come back and post reviews, or encourage others to buy the book.

I think I'm off to a good start but can only hope that these immediate and short-term efforts will have a long-term effect.

I would still like to attempt a blog tour or other forms of information and marketing means, but I want to wait until the book is released on the major markets such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Ipad, Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and others before doing this.

Am I doing the right thing by waiting? I don't know. If any of you readers have suggestions, I'm open. Also, I would be eternally grateful if someone were to explain to me how to organize and do a blog tour.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Hair (R)evolution

I've got this thing about hair and alcohol. Okay, not so much with the alcohol, although I have had just a few binge moments throughout my life.

I was looking back through some old photos recently and found that I could track my development through the evolution of my hair length. It seems I've been alternating between somewhat long, and extremely short hair all my life. This first picture is of me sitting in the front yard reaching for the beer. What a great start to life. I don't know who was offering me the beer.


It started out fairly normal. I sported the average hairstyle of the day back in 1966. You know, parted on the side, with a little whoop-di-do in the front.

Then, by 1969, my hair was all gone. The only thing I can figure is that it was summertime when the photo was taken. That's me sitting next to my cousin, Paula. I'm the one with the multi-directional stripe-thing going on.


By the very next year, my hair was right back to that side-parted style with the curly thing in the front again. In case you are having trouble following my unique look, that's me in the middle of the photo feeding my Dad some cake. My sister, Jacki is on the ride and my brother, Richy in on the left, sitting and looking almost toward the camera.


Okay, please forgive me as I flashfoward to my sophmore year in high school where my hair was getting long again. (I'm bypassing those really akward years where my hair layed in about ten different directions at once.) I guess that somewhere along those years, I decided to part my hair in the middle instead of on the side. I think that was the popular style at the time. I'm also bypassing those years because, somewhere along the timeline, I let my sister cut my hair, and I ended up with the basic crew-cut. I tried to wear a watch cap to school to hide it, but only succeeded in looking creepy, leaving me dateless for a while, and prolonging my exposure to wonders of socializing and dating. Thanks Jacki. I still love you though, and look back at our time growing up with fondness in my heart. But I'm still put your picture in here and making you suffer right along with me.


Of course, I had the hair back to a decent length by class picture time. Only thing I can say here is that I was kind of liking the beatles thing, but secretly wishing I was Grizzly Adams. By the way, if any of you make the comment that I looked like a girl at this time, I will find you, hunt you down, and kick your ass. Also, if I looked like I was stoned in the above photo, it is because I might have been - I don't know, I can't remember. Or, maybe I had just woken up.


After that, things get a little hazy. My hair just kept on going, and I liked it that way.


Oddly enough it (my hair) was back to a more respectable level for my graduation pictures.


Of course, shortly after that, I went into the military so the next twenty-two years involved pretty much, a single hair style.

Now, after all these years, my hair is finally touching my ears again. Would it be wrong of my to just let it grow? What are the chances I could find a hairstylist that would still remember to how to "feather" my hair like back in the 1970's and 1980's?

I know this post has absolutely no meaning or direction, but I'm just sayin' ...

I'll have to file this in the "rants" section later.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Promotion

Ok, time for the announcement. The project I've been working on most of this year is now available for your reading pleasure.

You can find it here.

Use code:  QD37X

Yes, this is the story of the Demon Succubus ousted from her clan for attempting to keep men alive long enough to develop a relationship with them. Unfortunately, her needs always trump her desires and she soon finds herself in the sights of a local police detective. The detective may be the only man able to survive her, but he has a secret of his own.

Remember, this story is for adults and contains erotic elements, so adults only.

If you follow the link, you can read 50% of the book for free. If you would like to get the whole thing for free (download in all available formats) than go through the "buy" process and use this coupon code:
QD37X (not case sensitive.)

All I ask is that you might consider leaving a starred review with comments after reading.

If you prefer to download from a mainstream site, this book will be available on all outlets (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo) very soon. Also, if you are interested in becoming an affiliate for this book and getting 50% of sales proceeds. Yes, that's right. I am willing to share fifty percent of my royalty with those that enjoy my work and pass that joy to others who decide to purchase. Just sign up for it at Smashwords dot com, and you will get a code used to link to the book. Then, if someone buys the book, you can make up to 50% of net sales proceeds. Of, course, this is only available through the Smashwords website. Barnes & Noble, Kindle, Diesel, and others take their own cut.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Karma in Critique

I know that many of you out there stay very busy with work and writing, or anything else that takes up most of the day. But, I implore you to consider taking on the additional task of occasionally critiquing or reviewing the work of others.
I used to absolutely hate (read HATE) taking on the task of reading someone's work critically. But, after basically being forced to take on such work in order to have my own work evaluated, I found that there is much to be learned from this activity.
I've learned more about my own writing by reading the work of others than I could have learn in three lifetimes on my own. I've learned what I, or many other readers, like and dislike--even when I cannot say, with any real authority, why. I've learned how to express my thoughts in a realistic and positive manner. I've developed a thick skin and a realistic view of my own talent. Most of all, I feel like I have learned how to write better by helping others write better.
What I'm trying to express here, is that sometimes there is much to gain by reading, critiquing, and reviewing the creative work of others. I've come to believe that the benefit derived by helping others in this way, can have a profound and positive effect on one's own writing.
So, in closing, take this post for what it's worth, but think about accepting the occasional task of checking the work of another writer. In the end, you might just be surprised how much personal benefit is gained by this simple gesture.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Final Choice

OK, the few votes are in, and I'm guessin' that most of you preferred cover concept number three. Below, I've posted an updated version of the cover.



So, tell me what you think. Does this capture your attention? If you saw this cover, would you be prompted to give the blurb a read - look inside?

On the right, I've posted the same picture in a smaller version so you might see what it would look like on your electronic reader, or online with Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

What are your thoughts? Intrigued? For the few folks participating in the beta-reading of this project, you'll know that the main character's eyes are a luminescent green with a thin band of gold ringing the outside. I hope this depicts that, although I wanted to make the eyes just a little more luminescent for the cover.

Oh, and by the way, The evening skyline in the foreground is of Midtown Atlanta. The building behind the building on the left is the Atlanta Four Season's Hotel. My main character visits this hotel twice and is apprehending by a police detective on her third visit. The majority of the story takes place in the Atlanta Metro area so I thought it was important to show on the cover.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cover Concepts

Presented for your opinion.

Three slightly different cover concepts for my WIP nearing completion. Which of these would most grab your attention, number one, two, or three?

1.


2.


3.


As you can see, the basic elements are the same. I want to have a woman's face superimposed into the Atlanta skyline. Specifically, the Four Season's Hotel depicted in all three concepts. Also, keep in mind that these are covers in concept only. They were all done by me to get an idea for what kind of feel the cover might have.

The one other thing that I would like to have that is not currently shown is the woman on each cover will have luminescent green eyes ringed in gold.

So, Tell me. Which one of these covers, if any, would most entice you to look a little closer and read the blurb for the story?

I personally like the third one best ... but don't let that sway your decision. Oh, and that author name shown? That's the pen name I use for my more adult projects and experimental projects.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The facebook Phenomenon

You might notice a new little gadget down there on the lower right part of this blog. Yes folks, I've now connected this blog to network blogs on facebook.

Problem is, I managed to get the widget stuck on my blog page, but now I'm thinking the only thing I've done is follow myself.

Please hit the follow button on this if you want to follow me with facebook. I hope it works. Hopefully, I'll figure out how to work this thing sooner or later.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Use Your Voting Privilege

This is just a friendly reminder for all of you American citizens out there that voting is, in fact, a privilege.

Tomorrow marks another election cycle in our nation. One of the great things about living in America is our ability to control our own destiny by voting for those that can represent us as best as possible, and serve as a means to that end.

So, I urge all of you to get out there tomorrow and VOTE! It does not matter where your political convictions lye or what others say. That, my friends, is the great thing about this country. I can mix with associates with differing political and ideological beliefs, and still keep them as friends. One does not suffer the threat of death for expressing their political beliefs, or even voting for that matter, in this country.

Sure, we have accusations of voter fraud, and one may have to shuffle past Black Panther members or the Tea Party Express to get to the polls, but they are not trying to shoot you on your way to the polls.

Iraq, for example, had one of the highest turnouts for their voting in recorded history. And many of these people literally risked their lives for the privilege of voting. They continued to risk their lives and the lives of their families by simply being seen by the wrong group of people with ink on their fingers.

So, if people are willing to go to such lengths to vote in a country that has never experienced democracy in any form, why can't we simply drive to a polling station here and make our voices heard? If you do not vote, then you have no right to complain about the direction our country has gone. If you do vote, then you have every right to blame the President and the current administration for all of our problems. That is, of course, until the next administration comes along--then you can blame them. But only if you vote!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Celebrating Survival: Breast Cancer Awareness

As some of you may know, October is breast cancer awareness month. Why, one might ask, did I wait until nearly the end of the month to post on this subject? I chose the third week of the month to celebrate breast cancer survival. A kind of "I made it to the end" theme.

Please take the time to learn a little about breast cancer and how we can all work together in hopes of someday alleviating this nuisance from our world. One can get started at this breast cancer awareness website.

We must all remember that breast cancer can affect anyone. Even if you do not get breast cancer yourself, you could be effected by a friend or family member with breast cancer. I'm sure that many of you, at least, know someone that has or has had breast cancer.

My Grandmother lost her battle with breast cancer, among other things, a few years ago. My mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor.

Many folks you might have heard of have had breast cancer, including those listed below:

Kylie Minogue
Melissa Etheridge
Sheryl Crow
Olivia Newton-John
Nancy Reagan
Sandra Day O'Connor
Julia Child
And many others.

And women are not the only ones that can get breast cancer. Richard Roundtree suffered from breast cancer. Richard Roundtree, for those of you that might know him, played Shaft way back in the seventies.

So there it is. My tribute to breast cancer awareness month. I wanted to make sure I squeezed this in before all the Halloween festivities began and we got bogged down in elections, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and the slew of other holidays bunched into the end of the year.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

I just received word that the audio addition of a story I had published with Eclectic Flash literary Journal was posted today!
The audio story posted is speculative flash fiction titled "The Sentient Soldier." It was narrated and produced by me. Click here for the audio story in mp3 format.

The story may take a few seconds or so to buffer as the mp3 is five minutes long.

Murdering Hiccup Girl

I just read this morning that the girl in Florida once famous for her uncontrollable hiccuping has been charged with first degree murder.

This poor soul originally appeared on the RADAR a few years back about the girl who could not stop hiccuping (click for link to original story.)

How does incessant hiccuping lead to murder? Well, after reading the related stories, one can understand that her issue is systemic to our entire society.

Thinking about it from a psychological aspect, the story becomes clear. Her hiccups were so bad that could not attend school regularly, this led to a poor education and limited employment prospects. Her desire for a means of financial security led to an association with unsavory characters, who misguided her into a life of crime. In desperation, she became involved in a robbery gone wrong.

Of course what is really typical of our society today that, instead of just being honest and saying "she messed up and must now pay the price" we look for some societal reason as to why people do these things. In other words, we end up blaming ourselves for failures of individuals.

Isn't it time we, as a society, allow for individual responsibility? If we continue to make excuses for individuals and allow them to push their failures onto the greater society, we will surely fall prey to a nation without individualism, bound by the shackles of dependence and perceived entitlement.

Link to the current story by clicking here.

Sometimes I just need a good rant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Introductory Poem

As many of you know from my previous posts, I've completed a project (well, the draft anyway) and am now editing and shopping for beta readers. The reasoning behind all the insecurity? This is a project far-removed from what I normally write.

I will, as editing progresses, post excerpts of this work here before moving them to a permanent page in the tabs above.

Meantime, a friend and fellow member of a local writer's group wrote a poem that I just love. I would like to convince her to allow me to use this poem at the beginning of my story if published because it rapidly drills into the very consciousness of my main character.

The poem was written by Jennie Fiumefreddo and is posted here (as written) with her permission. Remember that name folks, as you'll likely be seeing it on store bookshelves someday.

Succubus

Jennie Fiumefreddo
 

You don't even scream as I begin,


Bondage lies in the shackles of sin.


The smell of my skin makes your nostrils flare,


The pounding of lust blocks the danger there.


In a frenzy hands and mouth they defile,


You are losing control and that makes me smile.


As I straddle the heat your eyes open wide,


Its too late to stop the beast that's inside.


Draw your last breath; spill forth your seed.


Regret is tethered to the strength of need.


The seduction is brief but the ending the same,


You cease to exist so that I can remain.


Jennie says this poem came to her on a whim after I read an excerpt from my current work at a meeting of our local writers group, The Last Word. By the way, this is a writer that normally enjoys writing children's stories and poems. Wow, I didn't know you had it in you. I only hope that we can remain friends after you read my incredibly, embarassingly erotic (or is it simply pornographic?) manuscript.

Thank you, Jennie, for allowing me to post this.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take Me to the River

... Dip me in the water.

A great song that many enjoyed through the stylings of The Talking Heads as recorded by them in 1979. But did you know that this song was recorded in 1976 by the band Foghat? Better still, did you know that it was originally written and recorded by Al Green in 1974? Al Green. Now there was a great Artist.

I have a tendency to just dive into certain things, full force. Call it adult ADD or whatever, but I still suffer from stagnation and overplanning/overplotting when it comes to new stories. I suppose I should plow ahead in writing as I do in other areas-that's the way I've always been.

Case in point.

I remember when I was young, my family enjoyed camping trips. OK, my father enjoyed camping trips and, since I wanted to be the next grizzly Adams, I enjoyed them too. I'm not sure anyone else in the family liked anything about camping except maybe sitting around a campfire listening for Uncle Bob's laugh (although I think he was a second Uncle.) His laugh always made others laugh, but I don't think we were laughing with him so much, if you know what I mean.


Anyway, it was on one of these ventures that I learned a valuable lesson - I needed to learn how to swim. We'd arrived at a great spot along the Skokomish river and all the kids - myself included -  were in as we stumbled across the large rocks to get to the river's edge. I'm certain now, that at least on of our parents told us not to venture into the river beyond ankle-depth. Well, I was somewhere between the ages of eight and ten so, of course I was not a very good listener. If one can even imagine the possibility, I was a worse listener than I am now.

Well, it did not take me long to venture just ever-so-slightly more than ankle depth - and down the river I went. I heard frantic screams as I bobbed down the river, carried by swift currents. I think that the screams were coming from my parents but I'm pretty sure that most of them came from me. I did not know how to swim very well, or at all if I remember correctly, and so I just fought against the raging currents the only way I could, by flailing and screaming.

Somewhere along my path I gain some superhuman sense about me, and managed to grab onto a small log that was affixed somewhere along the bottom of the river. I think I might have actually grown claws. I do remember a brief argument on the shore before my Father reluctantly made his way out into the river to retrieve me. I spent the rest of the weekend as the laughing stock of our entire clan although that was nothing new for me.


I did learn how to swim that year and, to this day, love the water. Of course I'm living in the south where we call the water cold if the temperature drops below sixty. Washington State rivers are normally fed by snow runoff and stays at a balmy thirty-four degrees all the way to the ocean.

Ooh, I just scanned a picture so that ya'll will have proof of my water confidence. Got a picture of me with my Grandson after a half-hour of paddleboating at the zoo. I peddled and he steered the boat, which meant that we spent an entire half-hour going around in circles ... But he had a great time!

Like Dora, the explorer says: "Lifejackets ... So we can be safe!"

We should all be so lucky as to be able to just dive right in without forethought with writing.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Flawless Rescue

I was going to post a personal story today of a time in my childhood when I did not listen to my parents and nearly drown in a river. Instead, I was moved by the news to post a short piece on the rescue of the thirty-three miners in Chile.

A rescue that was originally supposed to happen by Christmas at the latest, and with little hope that all would survive, ended in great triumph and emotion.

I must take time to applaud the Chilean President and his wife for sticking it out to the end and supporting each and every one of the miners as they emerged from the rescue shuttle. The President's wife shed honest tears of joy for every arrival right up to the last. This serves as a testament to the true good will in a position normally fraught with political maneuvering and positioning. All that seemed to be put aside while the entire Chilean country and government stood behind and pushed forward the rescue effort.

I know that I normally post about writing and satire, but I thought this event warranted a change of venue just this once.

I think that our own United States government could learn from the example set by this seemingly third-world country in how to conduct one's self both politically and personally. Maybe it is time that our own current administration take the opportunity to provide some of that transparency and bridge-building promised during the election campaign.

Monday, October 11, 2010

He Sailed the Ocean Blue

On this day we celebrate the great discovery of Christopher Columbus - America. So, of course, I feel I must post some obscure facts about the man, his family, and his discovery.

First off, I know that by all the school books you've ever read, you were led to believe that Columbus' journey was a well planned venture of discovery by the British empire to find a new world. In reality, that didn't happen until later.

You see, Christopher Columbus was actually charged with finding a sea route to India. He thought it would be quicker to use the an ocean route, therefore, hastening Spain's entry into the lucrative business of spice trading. Only thing is, when he finally gained approval (and funding) from his country's leadership, he launched quickly in fear they would change their minds.

He landed in the New World months later and immediately set sail back home to tell his country he had found passage to India. I'm sure that most of you know this fact.

I write this not to discredit the great achievements of this person but to express how every story can make for a great novel or movie.

The association that most school students are given is that Christopher Columbus was somehow tied exclusively to the Mayflower and the first settlers of America. In fact, Christopher Columbus' fleet consisted of the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria. The Mayflower came later, after Europe discovered that Columbus did not find a new route to India but a new land. Of course in the true spirit of the British Empire, they did not send their great explorers to the new world. They sent their religious zealots, criminals, and endentured servants, just like Australia.

But I digress, let me get back to Chris. I can only imagine the agony he must have felt when he realized his gross navigational error (he greatly underestimated the distance to India) but his elation when he found that, purely by mistake, he'd discovered a new land - well, kinda.

Actually America was first discovered, and settled, by Leif Erikson, a Nordic Explorer, nearly 500 years before the landing of Columbus. The difference is that, in the case of the latter discovery, the British Empire took advantage of the information economically and strategically. If Spain would have been just a little quicker on the uptake, we would all be speaking spanish today.

I guess the main point of this rant is that history can be fun. And, if one digs deep enough, true historical events can provide excellent fodder for story creation and story telling. Oh, and by the way, did you know that Columbus' wife, Filipa, died in 1485 from "Consumption?" Think about the fictionalized story implications of that.

Happy Columbus Day!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moving in Shadows

I've seen much talk on the blogs lately of how one goes about writing a story. Some folks call themselves "Pantsters" because they start with a character or premise and just start writing. The concept here is that the character and situation will take on a life of their own and tell the story.

On the other side are the "Plotters" or "Liners." These folks create their characters and then outline the story they want to tell in as much detail as possible. Almost in polar opposite to a pantster, the plotter knows, right from the beginning, what will happen in the story and what the outcome will be.

I suppose that I fall somewhere in between these two extremes. I like to bounce an idea around in my head for quite some time before putting anything down on paper or screen. I then make a list, by character, expressing what major events will take place, what growth my characters will experience and whether their actions are part of the main plot or a subplot.

Of course, much of my thoughts change once I actually start putting in the scenes. What I end up with in the end is sometimes nowhere near what I started with. But usually, the main plot remains intact.

Why do I choose to work this way? One word, foreshadowing. I like foreshadowing so much that I will often go back and write in sentences, paragraphs, or even whole scenes in order to drop some subtle hint of things to come.  Let me tell a little story by way of example.

Earlier this year a single friend of mine decided to try the online dating thing. He had recently moved from Georgia, where he was a police officer. He met someone and, after some mild online flirting, made a date. Now, before I go any further, I must remind you all that I live in Southeast Alabama. Nuff said 'bout that.

After a forty minute drive that seemed to take him beyond the realm of civilization, Mike arrived at the address. A single-wide trailer sat squat against a backdrop of tall thin pines. The long rutty dirt driveway and unkept lawn brought memories of the movie "deliverance" to the fore as his car bounced and scraped toward the the decrepit trailer.

Ellen met him at the front door and brought him into the kitchen to meet the family.

"This here's Joe John. He's my Uncle," Ellen said.

Joe John stood at the counter, a case of Corona beer and a small bag of limes crowding the sides of a small wooden cutting board.

"Hello, I'm Mike." Mike extended his hand.

Joe John made no effort to shake his hand. He simply grunted some undeciferable greeting before grabbing a knife and slicing the limes into thin wedges. He then opened each bottle in the entire case, pushing a lime wedge into the opening, and putting the open bottle into an otherwise empty refrigerator.

Mike was already starting to regret the date. But then he met Darlene, Ellen's niece.

"Hey, I'm Darlene," she said as her mouth widened into a broad smile exposing red mottled gums, and no more than three teeth.

Mike had a sudden sense of deja-vu at Darlene's smile.

Ellen had prepared dinner for them and told Mike that they would eat "Homestyle" outside on paper plates. Mike filled his thin paper plate with a slice of ham, overcooked collard greens, and soggy field peas. By the time he made it outside, the paper plate was soaked through to his hand and rendered useless.

They sat at a rickety picnic table. There was little talking but plenty of noise. Mike winced as Joe John and Darlene gummed their food, making sloppy smacking noises. He could not help but notice that Ellen's teeth did not seem to move in concert with the rest of her mouth. Dentures. He suddenly realized he was in the middle of nowhere eating sloppy overcooked food with a family that did not have a complete set of teeth between them.

After dinner, they all stood around a barren firepit. Ellen and Mike made small-talk while Joe John drank his beer without offering any, and Darlene stared at Mike through the increasing darkness. Darkness brought a cool breeze so they decided a bonfire was needed for ambience. There was no wood for a fire so Joe John went to work chopping up an old dresser and pouring gasoline on it. When he threw a half-smoked cigarette into the pile, they had an instant bonfire.

Standing around the fire, light and shadows contorting their faces into odd grimacing shapes, Darlene finally said to Mike, "Haven't I seen you before? You look familiar."

A sudden realization raced through his mind. The previous recognition he'd felt surfaced again and he knew that he had, in fact, seen her before.

"No," he responded. "I'm not from around here."

"Me either," She said. "I'm from Multry County, Georgia. I spent ten years there while serving a sentence for drug possession and distribution."

Mike decided to make a quick exit before her slow memory revealed that he was her arresting officer.
Ok, I just made this story up so I can only hope that it will help explain what I mean by foreshadowing. I inserted statements into this story at the beginning that I hoped would give the reader a sense of future foreboding. I think this kind of foreshadowing elevates the level of tension and prompts the reader to keep going in hopes of answering some question.

Specifically, what I am talking about here is the very first statement by Darlene that she thought she knew Mike from somewhere. One can write a scene or story by the seat of their pants and possibly miss the opportunity to add to the tension with this foreshadowing. By having an idea of your outcome right up front one can write this foreshadowing in.

On the other hand, one could always go back and add this in later, if the thought comes to the writer after the fact. I personally believe that one's level of understanding of their story and its direction determines whether they should write as a Pantster or a Plotter.

So, tell me readers, what is your opinion? How do you like to write? Are you a Pantster or a Plotter? And, how do you add foreshadowing while writing your stories.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Editing Hell

Wow, I haven't done much with the blog lately.

Truth is, I just finished the draft for a project and have moved into the editing phase. I used to love this part of writing, but the love is quickly fading.

For some reason, I am still finding little grammatical, spelling, and syntax errors on the third go-round. And another thing. Isn't the word count supposed to go down as one edits? I've somehow gained two thousand words through my edits.

The one good thing that has come of this process so far though, is that I've already begun to develop the sequel to my "still unpublished" project, and I think it's going to be a doozy! Heck, for that matter, I've already come up with a title. I am thinking I will call the next (sequel) story: A DEMON AMONG WOLVES.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Magic of Publication

If this post seems like outright self-promotion, that's because it is.

The September issue of Eclectic Flash is out and containing two of my flash fiction stories. The stories to look for are:

My Mind's Eye by J.L. Stratton, page 36
The Sentient Soldier by J.L. Stratton, page 70

Both stories are speculative fiction. My Mind's Eye is an epistolary piece. The Sentient Soldier is a science fiction piece with social undertones.

Please take the opportunity to visit Eclectic Flash (click the word) and check out their literary journal. You can read the magazine for free through the online reader or buy copies of the magazine through a link on their site.

Read my stories, then feel free to post your comments.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Treasure Found

I've heard many times that one person's trash is another's treasure. I do not know where the phrase originated but I now understand the meaning a little more.

This weekend, I was with my wife running errands, which meant we had to spend time at the Dollar Tree. For those of you who do not live in the South, the Dollar Tree is a variety store that sells everything for one dollar. My wife loves the Dollar Tree and I would say that a good percentage of everything we have littering our house is from said store.

Believe it or not, the Dollar Tree actually has a literature section. Yes folks, you can buy books there - Novels for one dollar.

Anyway, I found a book that turned out to be quite entertaining. The book is written by Bill Keaggy and is published by HOW Books.

Honestly folks, the book is 232 pages of pure insanity. I loved it. Let me set the stage for this.

Imagine, if you will, you just emptied out your shopping cart, suffering through the heat and inconsiderate drivers moving too quickly, and too closely down the parking isle, when you spy a small scrap of paper in the bottom of the cart (or buggy, if you're from around here.)

The scrap of paper turns out to be somebody's shopping list, used and wrinkled, and worn fuzzy from over handling. You open the shopping list to find a treasure trove of hilarious writing, scribbles and tears.

The list may include things like this list of a person shopping at WalMart:

Stockings
Undergarments (for work-possibly w/red stripper shoes.)

Don't you want to work where this person works?

Yes, I bought an entire book full of found shopping lists. Wait. Don't laugh. The book was very well-written and edited with pictures of each list, along with captions explaining the author's thoughts.

I laughed until my belly hurt. And then I began to feel a little creepy for reading other people's private stuff. It was great.

I would recommend everyone with a sense of humor buy this book. I'm not sure it is available in mass at the Dollar Tree, but I'm sure it can still be found online by clicking here.

Oh, and by the way. Here's the Author's website.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Percolate Easy

Percolate:

Transitive and intransitive verb to make a liquid or gas pass through a filter or porous substance, or filter through in this way:

Intransitive verb to pass slowly through something or spread throughout a place.

• I let the idea percolate through my mind.


I took the title of this post from the history of Headquarters company, Third Battalion, One-seventeenth Infantry. To summarize what the quote below says, Percolate was a code word used in WWII by many units to designate the order for attack on the enemy. Easy was a word derived from the Time of day the attack was scheduled to take place. In this case 8am because eight starts with the letter "E." If the attack was to take place at 5am, the command would be "Percolate Foxtrot."
Percolate Easy is the Master Thesis written by Capt. William P. Buttler. It was written in June 1947. Percolate Easy takes its name from a simple but effective strategem used by regiment to indicate that an attack was due. When a battalion staff officer answered the ring of the field telephone carrying a call from Regimental HQ, the only words needed for the latter to order an attack for the following morning were "Percolate", followed by the word indicating the hour for jump-off. A word beginning with "E" designated 8:00...thus "Easy".


Now that I've given the history lesson for the day, allow me to discuss "percolate" as it relates to the craft of writing.

I like to let ideas percolate. At any time, I might have five or six story ideas and numerous characters percolating in my head. Most of this percolating is done on the subconscious level but, occasionally, a character bubble will bump into a story bubble and magic happens. I imagine some kind of chemicals are released in my brain and an idea comes to the surface. I sometimes dream of this character within my story idea.

Do other writers do this? Post a comment and let me know what you think.

I imagine that some writers can keep all this information in their head and begin putting words to paper. I know of many writers that simply take their character and story idea and let them develop as they write the story. I, on the other hand, am somewhat of an outliner. I take my percolated ideas of story and character and put them on paper in the form of an outline and character sketch.

I start with just one or two characters and a single plot story arc. I then add characters and plots as I write, being careful to update my outline as I go.

What about the rest of you? Do you start simple or outline in great detail. Do you begin to write and add plot lines as you go, or do you have it all figured out before you start?

And one last question. Do you ever leave any of your plot lines open or unresolved at the end of the story. My current project will end with one minor plot line unresolved. I feel this allows me a  spring board for a sequel that is already percolating in my mind. Is it wrong to do this or is it common practice?

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Ever-Continuous Story

As I near the end of the draft of my latest project, I find it increasingly difficult to actually finish. With only two scenes remaining, my writing has slowed to a snail's pace. Also, I find myself getting distracted because I am already developing plans for a sequel.

I guess the characters of this project have finally gotten under my skin. Meantime, all other projects and responsibilities in my life are not getting much attention.

I have sections in my back yard where the grass has grown so tall that I'm afraid to mow it in fear of what might lie underneath the jungle-growth. Had to take some time last weekend to replace a radiator and perform some other needed maintenance on my daughter's car. I hear the subtle voice of a previous writing project calling me, begging for attention, and yet, I still keep thinking of the continuation to a work not even finished yet.

On the upside, I will attend a meeting for my local writer's group tonight for some much needed inspiration and motivation.

Tell me, other writers. Do you ever run into this problem? Do you ever get to the end of a draft and find it nearly impossible to simply eek out enough words to complete a couple of remaining scenes?

How do you go about just letting go and finishing the project?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Confession and Redemption

OK, So I am moving at a snail's pace on the last three scenes of my current project and need a break. I find a good joke to be the perfect pick-me-up. Here's one I heard recently.

A young woman goes to confession.
She kneals and says, "Forgive me father, for I have sinned."
"Confess, and be forgiven," the priest says.
"Last night I picked up a strange man in a bar and took him home with me. I invited in my home and he made mad passionate love to me seven times throughout the night."


The priest looks at the woman through the screen and thinks very hard for nearly a minute before saying, "Squeeze the juice of seven lemons into a glass and attempt to drink the juice all at once."




"If I do this, will I be forgiven of my sins?" The woman asks.

"No," the priest responds. "But it will help to wipe that damn smile off your face."

The moral?

Sometimes being bad can make you feel oh so good.
Now you have an idea where the derogatory term "Squeezing lemons" originated.