It’s odd, but I have a thing for tornadoes. I grew up in southern Indiana in the 1970s and 80s when Tornado Alley still ran through the area, (did you know Tornado Alley moves about over the years like a wandering river?), and we had no shortage of incredible thunderstorms, filled with no end of tornado watches. Fortunately I and my family never had direct experience with the devastation a tornado brings, but we came close during the massive outbreak in April of 1974. A tornado went right through our area that day, blew a hole in our neighbor’s garage, destroyed a tool shed in our front yard, tossed about the trailer park a quarter mile down the road, and destroyed a few houses a mile away. We weren’t home at the time, were on our way back from town. My mother stopped the car alongside the highway and made us lay down in the back of the station wagon. I can still remember the green and orange sky. That’s as close as we came. We got lucky. Up until my parents moved out of our childhood home ten years ago, you could still walk the woods behind and see trees that had been snapped-off by that funnel cloud all those years ago.
That 1974 Super Outbreak, as it’s called, was the largest tornado outbreak on record, until the 2011 Super Outbreak came along. WHAT STANDS IN A STORM is a story of that Continue Reading »
I don’t know that I’ve ever enjoyed books so much that I have so many problems with. I’ve rarely been so lost as to what was going on with the plot as I was initially with these books. At the same time, it didn’t phase me as the characters and the pace of action more than made up for it. It’s not a combination that’ll work for everyone, but it did for me. Cook has a great reputation as a fantasy writer, so this style must work for a lot of people.
In the Black Company series, Glen Cook shuns almost all of the common themes and tropes of fantasy novels. There are no intricate histories read as if from a text book, no detailed descriptions of what people look like, no pages of descriptions of meals, nor involved descriptions of what the world looks like. There’s nothing other than what you Continue Reading »
Toasted Cake has published a podcast of my flash fiction piece “Forgotten”. Tina Connolly does a wonderful job with the reading. You can give it a listen HERE.
Writing, and any art, is a ritual. Show up at the same time every day, sit at your desk or stand in your studio. Keep showing up and your muse will show up as well, and all will be right with the world.
But what happens when you or your muse get bored with the same ol’?
This is the third year that Kristen and I have done the Reboot Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, with Michael Andreula. We came here for the work out, and work out we do. Every morning we’re up with the sunrise and do a full hour on the beach, punching and kicking with a group of other morning warriors, working with hand and knee pads, round house kicking in the surf, yoga stretches in the sand. Breakfast and decompress immediately after it all, and then it’s 10 a.m. and I’m in a hammock on a rooftop deck with a view of the Pacific, writing.
Something about the workout clears my mind, a sort of meditation. Regular meditation has never Continue Reading »
When I took my first serious fiction class at The New School, Alice Turner was my teacher. She knew all about plot and pacing and intent. When a student presented work to the class, though, she wouldn’t speak in those technical terminologies, she’d simply say “Wouldn’t it work better like this?” or say very directly, “What are you trying to say with this?” (I heard that one a few times). One evening as we waited for class to start and the room to empty, she and I sat on a bench in the hallway and she asked me what I wanted to do with my writing. I told her I wanted to make it my living. She nodded, smiled, said it was tough, but that if I wanted it I needed to not give up, no matter what the people like her said. Besides teaching that class, Alice also introduced me to my writing group, Altered Fluid, and without her and them I don’t know what I would’ve done. Probably not have written as much as I have. Over the years I saw Alice around at readings and parties, and she always had a smile, a kind word, and she always asked how the writing was going. I’m going to miss her.
My latest piece has been published by the New York Times. “Civil War Submarines” delves into the history of the submarines other than the famous CSS Hunley. As it turns out, the Union Navy was the first to field submersibles during the war, and several at that. In the South, dozens of other submersible craft were planned, started, and tested, with several entering combat.
You can read the article HERE on the New York Times’ website.
I’ve added a PDF copy of my short story “Before the Wind” to the Writing page. The piece was first published by Eschatology Magazine’s website, but they have recently ceased operation and taken down most of their website. To maintain a record and keep the piece “out there”, I’ve added it. You can download it on the Writing page.
150 years ago tonight the Union 205 foot long sloop of war USS Housatonic reeled from an explosion and sank off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. The shallowness of the water, only about 25 feet deep, would save most of Housatonic’s crew. They climbed the masts and into the rigging to await rescue, only 5 out of a crew of 155 lost their lives. As one of the survivors, Robert Flemming, clung to the rigging waiting for rescue, he saw something low on the water: a blue light. He didn’t know it then, Continue Reading »
“Pook Turtles, Armorclads and the Civil War on the Rivers”, my fourth piece for the New York Times “Disunion” feature, deals with the ironclads on the western rivers. Little know, these warships truly helped shorten the war Continue Reading »