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Update on Literary Progress

22 Jul

My second book of short stories, Sutton County Line: Seven Supernatural Tales, In Homage to Ray Bradbury’s Greentown Stories, is done and I’m just doing line edits on the print-outs. As the title indicates, it’s a collection of loosely connected, fantasy/supernatural short stories inspired by Bradbury’s Greentown stories, but based in a facsimile of my own hometown in the North Central Valley of California. The first story is a novella entitled The Drowning Game and then following are six stories using the same setting and several of the same characters. I’ve been reliably informed that the novella is the hardest of all literary formats to sell to traditional publishers, so I will be self-publishing, most likely through Kindle Direct/Create Space instead.

I also started a new novel, which, like Sutton County Line, is in the literary supernatural/fantasy genre, with the working title of Herba Clepta. This started out as just a short story of about 5,000 words, and then it just grew into something more. I frequently do that, usually because I like to do deeper character development than most shorter formats allow.


Classic Ghost Story

18 Apr

Does anybody read the classic ghost story anymore? I fell in love with this story format when I was about eight or nine, and my two older sisters gifted me with a couple of volumes of stories from the Golden Age of Ghost Stories in the late 19th–early 20th Century. I quickly learned to appreciate the work of authors such as M. R. James, F. Marion Crawford, August Derleth, Lady Cynthia Asquith, E. F. Benson, William Hope Hodgson, and H. Russel Wakefield. (Most of them were British, with a few Americans thrown in–although the Americans, like Ambrose Bierce and August Derleth, usually set their tales in the British Isles as well.)

I left those two books behind at my childhood home years ago, but some years back, I bought replacements for both from a used book site. I re-read them and enjoyed them even more as an adult–for one thing, I understood the somewhat archaic language, and some of the Britishisms, much better than I did at age nine.

I recently completed a short story in tribute to those old-fashioned ghost stories and I’m posting it here for my readers’ opinion (all five of you!). The story is a reworking of one of M. R. James’s most famous tales, Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad, except that it’s been transplanted from early 20th Century England to rural California in the 1970s, and it contains a grim little twist at the end that I think James would have appreciated.

The story is part of a collection featuring the same location and characters, and this is one of the later ones in the collection, so it does reference a few events from the earlier stories. However, if you ignore those small  references, it pretty much stands well enough on its own. It’s called Water Summons. I hope you enjoy it.

In addition, here’s a link to an excellent TV dramatization of Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad from the late 1960s:

Quick Estimate

16 Mar

Sutton County Line is now at 37,000 words. Foleytown is around 60,000 words. Western Waste is about 100,000 words. Gatsby’s Ghost (unfinished) is about 25,000 words.

In the last six years, I’ve written nearly 250,000 words of fiction. That doesn’t include blog posts, an unfinished play, a couple of unfinished short stories, etc. Hard to believe!

Tale of the Genji

19 Dec

Fascinating post from BookRiot on an artist who laboriously illustrated each scene in the world’s oldest known novel, The Tale of the Genji, while incorporating a traditional Japanese style of painting:

The process of creating each scene in the The Tale of Genji was time-consuming and laborious. Agameishi usually took up to two weeks to paint each illustration, using her calligraphy brush, which added touching sensitivity to every line. There was an important link between calligraphy and her visual work.

“My style not only contains the calligraphic rendering of ancient Japanese (Waka) short poems, the entire picture is set in the way calligraphers endeavor to put written characters to life–and harmony–on paper… In my paintings, calligraphy characters combine like persons and the person characters appear like calligraphy.”