Erik Larson

While the horror of Hurricane Sandy is still in our minds, I had a brother-in-law lose his home; I want to suggest an interesting read about a hurricane that was far more destructive. It may have not caused as much property damage, but the loss of life was unbelievable.

The subject of this book is a hurricane that occurred on September 8, 1900 and still remains the most deadly natural disaster experienced by this country.

Isaac Cline was the weatherman working in Galveston, Texas for the U.S. Weather Bureau, a relatively new organization. On the island of Cuba, members of the same organization were stationed, along with local weathermen. They knew a storm was coming from reports by ships in the Atlantic. The Cubans said the storm would enter the Gulf of Mexico. The Americans said that no hurricane had ever entered the Gulf, to their knowledge; the storm would make a 90º turn on journey up the eastern United States. Cline received no warning, and by the time he suspected a storm was about to impact Galveston, it was too late. The book states that over 6000 people lost their lives to this storm. A recent article in our local paper reviewing past hurricanes puts the death toll at between 8000 and12000.

For those who are interested with what life was like before we had technology to predict weather that we have now, I suggest you read this book.

November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm Leave a comment



My consistent readers,

For the record, I am back in the saddle and have submitted two short stories and am working on publishing my novel, The Beast Awaits. While I wait for any of my efforts to bear fruit, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite living authors and encourage you to read their work. My first author is Haruki Murakami.

Haruki Murakami was born in 1949, making him two years younger than me. How did he accomplish so much? I’m just kidding, he worked damn hard. That’s how he did it.
Murakami is a Japanese author and I have been reading his work for years. I look for him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. His stories are about the basic Japanese, yet most of his stories have a haunting quality, a feeling of fantasy.

If you want an introduction to his writing, I suggest reading Kafka on the Shore or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. When you begin these works you will fall into a world of Japanese culture. Eventually, the fantasy will begin. When you emerge from the novel, you will be in a state of satisfaction, yet mystified. I encourage you to take the journey.

July 8, 2012 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment





If you love to read as much as I do, and have missed books that ‘you should have read’ there is still hope. By any means possible, purchase the book, Bound to Please, by a phenomenal author and critic, Michael Dirda.

Dirda reviews books for the Washington Post, and every review not only profiles the book, but borrows from his extensive readings. When it comes to literature, he is more like a machine remembering apparently everything he has read. Just as an aside, his other books are most enjoyable giving a glimpse of the life of a true reader.

Bound to Please begins with is a review of books written about great books, beginning with Herodotus: The Histories, on to Writers of the Times. I cannot begin to mention all the information contained in this work. The book also delves into science fiction and horror, my favorite genres.

The book, at first, can appear to be an intimidating read, but if you enjoy literature and want it fill in the holes in your reading, once started, you will be unable to put it aside. At first, I intended to read a page or two but found myself devouring the work, taking notes and marking pages.

If you want to read a comprehensive survey of world literature, please treat yourself to this book. It is a work you will keep for the rest of your life and reference often.

March 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment





This piece is meant for those poor souls that are compelled to write.

As reported recently on my blog, my wife, Joni, and I went on a cruise last January. The experience, much to my surprise, was most enjoyable. At my age, it is wonderful to have all your needs met, even some you didn’t know existed (all legal of course). However, this reflection is more about the people I encountered and my thoughts, contrasting my mindset and that of those wonderful people at a similar stage in our lives.

Joni and I joined a large group while taking the cruise, including my sister, Shirley and her husband Matt. They now live in South Carolina in an over 55 retirement community and were joined by about eight or nine other couples from the same community. I had the opportunity to talk to most of them and those feelings generated are the source of this article.

All retired, the exuded the joy of life. They had all worked hard and now it was time to enjoy the fruits of their labor. In the many conversations I shared with them, I came to appreciate the image of retirement, having time to relish the simple things that life now offered whether it be gardening, walking or spending time with grandchildren.

As I listened to them I reflected on my life. I have always been one to pursue a goal and that drive offers no peace. I envy those who, in retirement, can put aside their past efforts and enjoy their twilight years.

I am reminded of the legend of Sisyphus, doomed to role a stone up a hill only to have it fall down the opposite side where he must again begin his effort. There is no end to his toil.

Those retirees I encountered have defied Sisyphus, for the most part. Some still work part-time, victims of the current economy. But for the most part, they have rolled the stone of their careers to the summit and now enjoy the gentle coast downward in retirement. They have reached the point where the repetition of failure no longer exists. They are at peace with their life and the world.

But for us writers, the scenario is different. I am one of your legions and share the Sisyphus of the written word with you. You and I will never retire. For to retire to us would mean we have ceased to think, to imagine. We roll the rock of our creation up a slippery slope only to have, for many of us, have it roll down in rejection and lack of appreciation. We are compelled to continue this effort to the end.

Fellow writers, these are my observations. God help us all.

March 12, 2012 at 7:45 pm 2 comments


I thought I’d share this interview with you, my loyal readers.

My interview is at the end of the article.

October 26, 2011 at 3:37 pm Leave a comment





I have just finished the final draft of my novel, The Beast Awaits, and have once again started looking for an agent who would accept this book.
The reason for this update is that I find that the approach one must take has changed. In the past, you were able to search the website for The Association of Authors Representatives
for an agent. That is no longer the case.
I now find that the best site to search is Agent Query. is where I recommend that you go first.
As always, do your homework! After you’ve settled on an agent to contact, go to Absolute Water Cooler and Predators and Editors.

Good luck, and wish me the same.

October 29, 2010 at 7:18 pm 5 comments




This is a website for readers, and since writers are also readers, all bases are covered.
Here is a holiday present from me and my writer’s group, Wordwrights. The gift is Project Gutenberg. Here, you will find 30,000 free books, all off copyright. Some of the best works that history has to offer can be found here for free. You will also discover free audio books that you can either download or have a free CD sent to you.
I wish you all the best of holidays. As you know, the vast majority of writers make little or no money, but we keep plugging away; we have no choice. And readers, we are doing it all for you.

December 22, 2009 at 6:11 pm Leave a comment





After you have done your homework, examined the various sites mentioned in this blog and read up on writing a good query letter and synopsis, there is yet another website that must be checked.
ABSOLUTE WRITER WATER COOLER is where you can find other writers’ experiences with agents and publishers. Before you submit that fruit of your labor and all the dreams that go along with finishing a novel, check out this site. Here, you can find out first hand, how the people you are about to deal with have dealt with others.
Once you have written your novel, some of the hardest work is still ahead of you. Share your work with others. Join a writer’s group if at all possible. I have been a member of the Wordwrights for some years now and found them to be a constant source of editing and insight into my pieces, and support.
Now that the fires of your inspiration have given you this work, although it is difficult, you must edit, edit and edit. Most of all, you must believe in yourself and your work. Do not let rejection get you down. I truly feel the difference between a published writer and one that publishes nothing is the willingness to persevere.

Good luck.

December 4, 2009 at 6:52 pm Leave a comment




This is the second article in a continuing series to help writers to find reputable agents and get their work published.
The subject of this piece is the website PREDITORS AND EDITORS found on both the websites for ANOTHER REALM, and iN Vitro. For a writer, I feel this is a must site to add to your favorites.
Provided is a constant updated list of agents, as well as attorneys and publishers, rating them and their strengths or weaknesses. The site recommends which to use and from which to stay clear. No matter who the agent is, check this site before submitting.
Along with all this information, is a vast source of material to help the writer in his quest to be published. The benefits of this site must be explored to be truly appreciated.


November 2, 2009 at 8:59 pm Leave a comment



This is the first in a series of articles exploring the convoluted process the vast majority of those of you hoping to publish a novel or book of nonfiction will go through. There are the lucky ones, we all read about them, but if you are reading this, there is a good chance you are not one of them. The immediate question I’m sure most of you are asking at this point is, “Do you have an agent?”
The answer is NO. But I’m still trying and will continue until my novel sees life, or I don’t. It’s easy as that. However, I have studied the markets and websites that will help you find someone who has faith in your work. That knowledge is what I will share with you in this article.
This whole writing business is not for one with a fragile ego; not for one who cannot accept rejection and criticism. At the same time, you must be strong enough to believe your work is worthy of publication. With that, comes a healthy dose of honesty and self-examination. You must have a firm belief that your writing is good and it is just a matter of time before an agent or publisher will discover this fact.
I must digress. I recently published an article about Duotrope, a most helpful website for writers. It is an excellent place to find venues to publish your work be it short stories, poems, and yes, novels. I have now discovered, that with the current economic condition, it is more valuable than ever. There are a host of places that are closing or not accepting new submissions. I have sent stories to publishers in the last few months that have been rejected, but at the same time, wanted to see more of my work. Recently, I decided to submit to them again only to find that they were closed or not accepting work until further notice. Duotrope is the best source that I know of to find up to the minute information on who is publishing and who is not. Support them, if you can.
Now back to finding an agent. First, I recommend you read a copy of Guide to Literary Agents published by Writer’s Digest Books. Here you will receive information on writing query letters, a synopsis, and for the nonfiction writer, a proposal. There are other books that cover the same topics, but this is the one I have used.
You can study the latest copies of such books for the above information. But for the latest information on contacting agents and what agent is looking for a particular genre, I suggest using the internet. Also, once your novel is complete, and never seek an agent or publisher until it is, you will find that the requirements they want for query letters or a synopsis will vary widely from what you have read.
Most also want to see some of the novel, ranging from the only the first page to the complete work.
Now, how do you go about finding an agent?
First, remember this, you should NEVER have to pay a reputable agent to read your work. Second, if an agent says your work needs editing and knows an editor that will edit your novel for a fee, run away immediately. Some agents use this gimmick to make money. However, you may encounter office fees that you must pay for copying and postage. These fees are acceptable and should be expected. Let’s face it, the possibility of publishing a novel is an ego trip and there are people out there who are more than willing to feed on your ego.
However, there is a way to protect yourself. The Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) adhere to a high standard of principles to become members. These are the agents you want to deal with. Their website will appear at the end of this article. This is not saying that these are the only reputable agent’s; further articles will explore how you can check an agent’s track record.
This piece should help start on the road to finding an agent and selling your novel. To say that it is a bumpy road is putting it mildly, persevere, believe in yourself, but be careful.

October 23, 2009 at 7:01 pm Leave a comment

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