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Do Folks Not Read Anymore?

by Angelique

Click here to go to Angelique’s site : Angelique, The Novelist’s Blog

This isn’t about book sales or publicity; it’s a legitimate concern—one I’ve had for quite some time. What happened to the days when you looked forward to the book fair coming to your school? What happened to the days when a library card was protected like a credit card? What about the days when you couldn’t wait to get the next book in The Babysitters Club and Nancy Drew series (I feel a little nostalgia coming on )? Now, it’s all about the latest Rated R movie when Halle is going to show her boobs or the next Grand Theft Auto video game. I don’t know about other parents, but reading is a regular curriculum in my household. Even if it’s just a trip to the grocery story, I get my stepson into the habit of reading ice cream labels, cereal boxes, and candy wrappers (all things that he loves) to keep his mind stimulated.

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Following is a list of books from the Published Authors Network:

The Magus – Alex Sumner

http://tinyurl.com/BuyTheMagus

Discovering Her Wolfen Heritage by Missy Martine – Kindle Version

http://www.amazon.com/Discovering-Wolfen-Heritage-Publishing-ebook/…

Table for Three by Missy Martine – Kindle Version

http://www.amazon.com/Table-Three-Siren-Publishing-ebook/dp/B0030WD…

Table for Three by Missy Martine – Print Version

THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH

Eva Etzioni-Halevy

http://tinyurl.com/y5dljkg

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Which books quench your soul? by Christina Linnell

Her url is: http://www.aclosetwriter.com/2010/05/what-books-quench-your-soul.html

The great scholar, Charles W. Eliot once said “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

I love this quote because in so many ways it is true. I think of all the books I have fallen in love with, that have transported me to another time, another place. For the sake of not sounding too sappy books quench my soul. They really do.

My answer to Christina’s question:

It may sound funny but Catcher in the Rye feeds me like no other book I’ve read. I’ve read it 5 times and it never disappoints. The 1st time was in 10th grade, the age when it’s meant to be the most relevant, but I find it to be even more relevant now than it was for me 25 years ago.

Maybe it’s that I’m in a mild, yet perpetual state of rebellion against everything I see around me or maybe it’s that I find Holden Caulfield to be one of the most “real” fictional characters I’ve ever come across. I know I should have outgrown Holden by now but, maybe it’s because I haven’t grown out of him that keeps me tuned in and open.

Another favorite of mine is Kerouac’s On The Road.

Why “Morgan” and what am I trying to say through him?

My male lead, Morgan, was named for a young friend of a friend who died a drug-related death. Some of you in Southern California may have known him as Morgan Bonan. I wanted to honor his early passing by giving him new life in my book. His father, unlike mine, served in Vietnam, and served me in adding a bit more depth to the character of Morgan’s fictional father.

The original name for Morgan in Tradewinds was “Jonny,” named after an old friend of mine, Jonny Smith, an awkward sort, who I used as a model for the early drafts. Jonny Smith’s real father died at an early age of lung cancer and left Jonny, in my eyes, as a sad, rootless kid.

Tradewinds was named for the prevailing winds that blow daily in Hawaii and Just Another Day was named for a Paul McCartney song (Perhaps you can go to Youtube and listen to it) of the same name that served as the basis for the story of my female protagonist, Livy Tinsley . But, like I said earlier, we’ll get to Livy a little later on. First let me finish with the title. The title of the Tradewinds section has now been changed in the current form of the book to “Got to Get You Into My Life” (Are you confused yet?) The reason being that a significant part of Morgan’s journey has to do with finding an ideal partner.

Morgan’s last name comes from one of my favorite English poets, William Blake. The fact that Morgan’s father’s name is William is meant to cause the reader to bring some of that transcendental poet’s wisdom to the table. There is also a bit of irony here which I’m sure many of you will see. Morgan’s father is, at times, much like the real William Blake, but at other times, much like Adolf Hitler. It’s the military side of him that drives him to be dictatorial. And it’s this side that causes trouble between himself and his son.

I’ll get into Livy’s character next week.

Have a good weekend.

Morgan Blake and Livy Tinsley (more about Livy later), are subjected to the world around them. They make choices, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. But instead of accepting the deficiencies in the world around them, they strive to better themselves. When one of my characters does something wrong, they pay for their actions. For Morgan Blake, there is a very clear price to pay and he pays for the sins he has committed and for those visited upon him by his father. Though he makes some poor choices, he ultimately must, and chooses to, pay the proverbial piper. He must because he knows right from wrong and his soul will not allow him to rest until he faces himself and his demons.

Without proper parenting and a profound lack of traditional “rites of passage,” our youth, sadly and oftentimes, turns to the media for an identity. My characters are faced with these things but choose not to become victims of pop culture, or slaves to it. Morgan struggles to gain a sense of a moral compass that helps him find a way through. He’s not perfect. He makes mistakes. But he learns to strive to be better than his circumstances.

It should be noted that the following is a work in progress and is subject to change. As I acquaint you, and reacquaint myself, with my motives and hopes for this, my little book about life and living, I will, invariably, experience a hiccup or two, perhaps lose my way, and then, hopefully, find the path again. It won’t always be a straightforward and clear-cut ride. And it will actually be a bit messy at times. But isn’t life that way?

Let me start with the title. The Tradewinds (the original name of my story about Morgan Blake), when combined with Just Another Day, (my story of Livy Tinsley), became Ticket to Ride. Apart from it being sort of “catchy,” given that it’s also the title of a Beatle’s song, the title has direct meaning because the two protagonists meet on a train. Being that popular music has been an important part of popular culture for decades it was important for me to flavor the book with sprinklings of it throughout. Musical references also help to contextualize situations and occurrences throughout the book and lend a soundtrack that I feel is as important to this type of book as it is for a film that has young characters inhabiting a particular period in time. We all have, or have had, songs that point to particular periods in our lives. These songs provoke certain emotions, good or bad, and help to articulate our experiences. For many, shared music is the common ground through which we can express how we feel with others and it also helps to add resonance and depth to otherwise mundane experiences.

The Tradewinds began as a short story. It was meant to be just a brief conversation between two young men and their youthful observations of life. From there it grew as I would, over the course of several years, go back to the original manuscript and add small flourishes and sometimes whole chapters. I fancied myself a painter returning time and again to a canvas that represented his life’s work. At some point I decided to put Morgan through a sort of hell that I hoped he would get through and become a man. As he asks his friend Miko in the third chapter, “When do you know you’re a man?” When indeed does any young man know when he has passed into manhood? It’s not easily defined nowadays so I guess, in a way, I wanted to create for the male reader a sense of the modern rites of passage. I must say that Morgan’s experiences are not required for manhood. But given the time period and the prevalence of drugs and promiscuous sex in the 70s, they seem likely. And while I know these things are not confined to the 70s experience, that decade was the first in which these things became most prevalent. Right or wrong, I wanted to put Morgan through the rounds and have him come out the other side a better man for having realized he’d made some poor decisions and embracing what he found to be good about himself. I’d like for male and female readers alike to learn from the Morgan’s mistakes, though I know many of us have to make them for ourselves.

Hey Folks,

I’m going to take the week off (I can hear the cheering of the crowd). All of my free time of late has been taken up with graphic design work and the launch of a new Ojai lifestyle magazine. To be honest, I’m exhausted. I need a little time to get my feet back on the ground and hopefully re-visit my second book, Here We Are Now. This book has been neglected for some time now and needs my full attention.

Hopefully, once I get some rest, I’ll be able to get back to center and find that elusive state-of-mind required to forge ahead on the book. As a sequel to Ticket to Ride it will cover quite a lot of ground (from about 1980 to the present day). The focus will be on Dylan Blake, the son of Livy and Morgan from Ticket to Ride and his own coming-of-age in the 90s and beyond. I’m excited at the prospect of fleshing out Dylan’s inner struggle and to refine him into a what I hope will be a character that, in some way, represents the struggle to find meaning in the present day.

I leave you with 35+ posts to explore, if you so opt. I hope you will dig deep and find some you may not have already read. And I look forward to hearing your thoughts and reading your comments on them. Have a good week. I’ll see you a week from Tuesday (May 25th).

Listening to early REM helped me to believe that poetry had, in fact, not been banished to the dusty recesses of the literary world. I believe these guys put poetry back into the mouths of average folks and raised the bar for popular music.

Swan Swan H Lyrics
(Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)

Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Girl and dog he bore his cross
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
A long, low time ago, people talk to me

Johnny Reb, what’s the price of fans?
Forty a piece or three for one dollar
Hey captain, don’t you want to buy
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings, her hair chains,
Here’s your wooden greenback, sing
Wooden beams and dovetail sweep
I struck that picture ninety times,
I walked that path a hundred ninety,
Long, low time ago, people talk to me

Pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine
Marching feet, Johnny Reb, what’s the price of heroes?

Six of one, half dozen the other,
Tell that to the captain’s mother,
Hey captain, don’t you want to buy,
Some bone chains and toothpicks?

Night wings, her hair chains
Swan, swan, hummingbird
Hurrah, we are all free now
What noisy cats are we
Long, low time ago, people talk to me
Pistol hot cup of rhyme
The whiskey is water, the water is wine

Tomorrow or the next day I will be exploring the reasons why I write (I have to find the time between my day job and my freelance graphic design work). For me there is no better reference piece than Orwell’s Why I Write.

Here are the 4 major points from Orwell’s essay on Why I Write with a brief introduction:

“I give all this background information because I do not think one can assess a writer’s motives without knowing something of his early development. His subject matter will be determined by the age he lives in — at least this is true in tumultuous, revolutionary ages like our own — but before he ever begins to write he will have acquired an emotional attitude from which he will never completely escape. It is his job, no doubt, to discipline his temperament and avoid getting stuck at some immature stage, in some perverse mood; but if he escapes from his early influences altogether, he will have killed his impulse to write. Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.

(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.

(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.

(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.”

It’s a formidable task but I will take this on (time allowing) as best as I can.

Please see the introduction below: Finding God on the River (Part 1)

He thought about how beautiful the river was with the sun coming overhead and shining on the water. It struck the light grey rocks on the side as well and the combination of the light on the rocks and on the water turned this part of the river into a dream-like sequence of slow-motion nature, with their figures and the dragonflies blending together into a moment of peace; the river symphonizing the scene with music fit for the coming of Christ.

These moments, whether they knew it or not, were why they came. It was not so much for the fish. They didn’t need to catch fish for food and, though catching fish was something you could tell your friends about, the honor of being a sportsman was far outweighed by this communion with God and with one another. Being men, big and small, these things were not easily put into words. But these moments came, and though they might not seem to be done justice with words, there was a quiet knowing that the communion had been achieved. Some might say that this going fishing was like attending church, but this could only be part of the story. In going to church we’re guaranteed to find the word of God, provided our priest, pastor or preacher is speaking it. In going fishing, we take the chance that God Might find us. And He almost invariably does and we return home to mothers and sisters who can see that we’ve been with him, whether we caught fish or not. Neither experience of God is better or worse, it just might be that the one to one, experienced beside a river is perhaps clearer. And perhaps that is because there are no words to interpret, just what is felt in one’s heart. Jesus gave us that.

“Above the rapids and the fast water there’s a waterfall with a nice deep pool. That’s probably where your brother is. Why don’t we head up that way?”

The kid had drifted off again, watching the little pool in front of him. In it were crawdads, freshwater clams, and snail-like things that retracted into their shells when poked at with a stick. The leaves at the bottom were dusted with mud and the kid wondered why they hadn’t dissolved. Along the shore there was poson ivy and “sticker bushes” and wild berry bushes. You had to be careful fishing here and the kid watched as his father cast his line time and again and avoided getting snagged.

“Not really catching anything down here?”

“Naw… I had a few bites but your brother has a better sense for these things and I’m sure he’s pulling’em in left and right.”

The father reeled in his line and started up the path. The boy fought with the sticker bushes to get the net free then turned and ran to catch his father. As they walked northward along the river thay began to hear the sound of the waterfall. While a waterfall might seem just an interruption the the level flowing of water, when one is close to it, there is there a sense of power. The river is that much more alive there and one is inclined to stand in front of it and watch as sheet upon sheet and molecule upon molecule flows over and down and spits and splashes. And all the spitting and splashing combines together into a roar that, from a distance, is as soothing as the sound of the waves in the sea.

The brother was pulling in a big one as they approached and the smaller brother ran to make the assist. He had what appeared to be a fifteen inch Brown and it was putting up a considerable fight. Big brother pulled away from the water and the kid ran in with the net forgetting and not caring about getting wet. He scooped the fish into net and turned in the direction of his brother, smiling wide-eyed and seeing the same expression on the face of his brother.

“Right on bro,” said the big brother.

“Look at that!” said the father.

“Got two more just like it in here,” said big brother, patting his creel.

“Yer like an indian,” said the little brother.

“He definitely has a sixth sense,” said the father.

The boy looked to his brother with admiration. He’d taken all that their father had taught him and reached great heights. He was an accomplished athlete, good in school and an ace fisherman. He thought about how he was not like his brother. He hadn’t begun to play sports and didn’t even know yet how to swim. He was pretty good in school and spent most most of his time riding bikes with his friends or just goofing off. He’d taken an interest in books and spent a lot of time alone reading. He didn’t feel he was quite the “All-American” that his brother was but he was becoming who he was and slowly but surely he was seeing that he didn’t have to be a great baseball player like his brother to be recognized as an accomplished person. He liked baseball and sports and would one day be a pretty good soccer player and even learn to swim, but for now, he was mostly a quiet observer and this, he would find later, would be one of his greatest strengths when it came to writing stories.

“You guys ready to eat?” his brother asked.

“I’m hungry, how about you dad?”

“I could eat, yeah… let’s climb to the top of the waterfall and eat there.”

There was a flat rock with water flowing underneath at the top and they set down all their gear. The father pulled the sandwiches from his knapsack and poured a cup of tea into the top of the thermos and then looked to big brother and asked if he had the other cups.

They ate heartily, like farmers who’d risen early and had already managed to plant the entire field.

“Did mom make the sandwiches?” asked big brother.

“Yes… yes she did,” replied the father.

“There’s something about ham and cheese made by mom,” said big brother.

“Your sister made the cookies,” said the father.

“What a feast,” said the little brother and they all laughed at how corny and, at the same time, how right on his statement was.

“The river is really amazing from up here,” said big brother.

“It is,” said the father.

“It’s already been quite a day,” said the brother, turning toward his little brother, “maybe sometime you could write one of your stories about this.”

The sun shined into his face as he spoke and in his hazel eyes the little brother saw a certain green light that he would never forget.

Ticket to Ride on Amazon

the julian day

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