And A Fine Time Was Had!

Kay gave a riveting reading from her book, Beyond the Blue Door, at last night’s book launch. Her good friend, and ex, Craig Brunanski, wowed the audience with his songs. One of them was written using the book’s images and called, of course, Beyond the Blue Door. Thank you so much Craig!
The evening was capped with Ben Nuttall-Smith reading from his memoir about surviving the London Blitz, a pedophile uncle and he and his sister’s passage as children on the Rangitata, a converted oil tanker, as they survived a submarine attack. His poem of their horrible sail through burning, oil-covered sailors in the water, who could not be picked up, brought tears to the eyes of the audience.
A memorable evening! Thanks to Kay, Ben and Craig!

Sugar and Spice

WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA:  WORLD WAR II/WAR IN THE WEST/BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Growing Up Before the Blitz

Ben Nuttall-Smith and his sister Naomi had an idyllic life before the bombs came:

When we heard the birds building nests beneath the eaves, I teased my sister. I told Naomi the birds were coming to our bedroom to peck out her eyes ‘cause she was “sugar and spice and all things nice.” I’d be safe, “Little boys are made of slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails.” If my sister cried loud enough, Mommy would spank my bare bottom with the hairbrush.

I got spanked for climbing the apple tree, too. After a spanking and time crying in my room, Mother held me and rocked me until my sobbing subsided. Such moments of love and undivided attention were wonderful, and I looked for them more and more. If pain was the only way to assure undivided love from my mother, then I was willing to make the sacrifice necessary to win her love. At an early age I learned to equate pain with love.

Naomi was born in London. That made her more English than I, born on safari in Tanganyika. Mother said a hyena frightened her while I was being born, so I came into the world laughing. I always got fits of the giggles when being told off, which was most annoying to those doing the scolding. Also, according to Mother, since I was born in Africa, I had to be boiled in a pot for several days just to make me blonde. The fairies delivered Naomi so she was perfect.

Come out to hear Ben read from his book, Discovered in a Scream, on Friday, February 16th, at the Double Header Book Launch. See the event description in EVENTS
Picture from commons.wikimedia.org, https://commons.wikimedia.org, commons.wikimedia.org, title “240px-NA-306-NT-3163V.jpg”

Salmon Arm Library Talk

Kay McCracken is giving a talk/reading at the Okanagan Regional Library Salmon Arm branch, Wednesday, February 14th, 2 – 3 pm.
Her supporters will be pleased to hear her read from her recently published book, Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey.
Following the readings Kay will answer questions.
The book is published by Rutherford Press. See it on  Kay’s author page.

There’s a Story in Here Someplace

The Intercept has a recent article: Stock Market Swings Tell Everything You Need to Know About Our Rigged Economy

The recent Dow Jones fluctuations have very little to do with a legitimate fear of inflation. The stock market panicked largely because CEOs and shareholders fear that they’re losing their upper hand over a workforce that’s cutting increasingly into their record profits. The Fed’s response to that may well be worse for the average American than anything that happens on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange: It may throw workers who are already hurting under the bus in the name of a stopping something — inflation — that’s nowhere to be found. There’s an outsized chance it could even trigger another recession, as more dramatic rate hikes have been known to do in the past.

Is It Snowing?

You Don’t Know Snow

You don’t know snow

until you’ve heard coyotes howl;

your eyes and whiskers frosted shut

and from your nether regions, feeling gone.

If hell is real, there’ll be no fire

just icy winds across a barren plain.

You don’t know snow

until the saw-edged bite of frost

burns your numbed toes and fingertips

when they’re forced awake.

: by Ben Nuttall-Smith

poem and painting from his book, Crescent Beach Reflections

Mascots Commissioned by Committee

 

What is Cultural Appropriation?

Do the CA Cops have their hackles raised by even having that question asked? Does it mean that only a person with bona fide genetics, having been raised fully within the culture, is permitted to comment on or write a story about, say, a cult like Bountiful?
Bonny Brooks, writing in Quilette on 30 Jan. 2018, and linked from Pandaemonium, suggests we shake our heads and rethink what is being done being blindly raising the CA flag.
Yes, there should be the occasional slap on the wrist for blatant commercial appropriation of culture, but:

We often call this a ‘cultural appropriation’ panic, but the animus driving it is reaching into the deepest crevices of writers’ private lives and personal histories. I call this the memoirification of literature; the lovechild of a justifiable call for more diverse writers and a social media marketing imperative, this drive to personal confession demands ever more particularised voices prepared to share their particularised testimonies under the banner of literary forms that are not, by definition, supposed to be testimony. And increasingly there are penalties for those who appear not to ‘stay in their lane’ and write endlessly about themselves.

There is no appeasing this impulse. In the last few weeks, I read an article asking who ‘gets’ to write fiction about sexual abuse and another telling writers how they must do so should they dare. The current zeitgeist for biographical vampirism is even pushing journalists reporting on issues of public interest to qualify themselves. As James Bloodworth recently put it, having fielded online jibes for writing a reportage book about low wage labour in Britain while not actually being (or no longer being, in his case) a low-wage labourer: ‘A peculiar thing about our age is that one of the easiest ways to get ahead is to talk endlessly about yourself. If you aren’t prepared to emote publicly about how ‘tough’ things were for you personally, you’re effectively at a disadvantage to those that are.’ Were his critics not sure what journalism is?

For those of us that have memoir-worthy backstories but are more memoir-averse, this trial-by-testimony approach to choosing and marketing literature is alarming. As it happens, I fit within several historically ‘spoken for’ and much written about groups. However I don’t write testimony and I do not own these issues. There isn’t one way to emerge from adversity, so demanding a paint-by-numbers approach to its portrayal is frankly childish, reductive, and philistine. Characters should be three-dimensional beings, not mascots commissioned by committee.

 

image from Algonquian tradition

OH Kay!


As seen in the Shuswap monthly, Friday AM: Oh Kay! by Lorne Reimer, editor & publisher, www.friam.ca.

Kay McCracken has a regular column and she is active hosting and MCing events in and around Salmon Arm. She will be on Vancouver Island in February, followed by “Kay’s Army”. Here is the article:

Kay McCracken will give a talk/reading on her new book, Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey, at 2 pm, Feb. 14 at the Salmon Arm library branch. The cover art is by Frieda Martin.

“I have such respect for Kay McCracken’s indomitable spirit and
unquenchable creativity. In this, her second memoir, her eloquent and brave insights offer life-changing revelations about anxiety, depression, children of alcoholics, care-giving and reconciling with aging parents, hardwon self-awareness and how one good and tough soul hung on to her dream of writing until she became a prolific and beloved poet, performer, journalist and memoirist. As she says best: ‘Life dishes up enough heartache; I’ll grab joy while I can.’  This writer and this book are an inspiration and comfort.”  – Caroline Woodward

The reviews are coming in for Kay McCracken’s second book. Her memoir, Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey, is a sequel to A Raven in My Heart: Reflections of a Bookseller. It picks up where Raven left off and even answers a few questions.
According to Kay, “The Blue Door symbolizes anything we want to get beyond: our fears, anxieties, illness, failures and even hopelessness.”
The story deals with her struggles and ultimately, following a dream, and is bound and intertwined with her mother’s journey as well.
The book should be available at local bookstores by February 9 and through Rutherford Press at https://rutherfordpress.ca/kay-mccracken/ and at Amazon, either in paperback or ebook.
Kay has given the All Month its literary creds as our longtime literary columnist. We are also truly proud of her role as co-founder of Word on the Lake, one of BC’s most established writer and readers’ festival.

Come out to Qualicum Beach Civic Centre on February 16th to hear her read from Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey.

Susan’s Copper Beech


When Ben Nuttall-Smith and I stayed at Susan Musgrave’s Copper Beech B&B a few years ago, I was overwhelmed by the breathtaking beauty of the place and even more so by the ceiling-to-wall nick-knacks and art.
Ben took it all in stride, preferring to sit in his room and write.
Perhaps that really peculiar monster head on the wall – it looks for all the world like the head of the Creature From the Lost Lagoon, but is more likely to be a tuna skull? – perhaps it stirred some of Ben’s creativity as he was reworking “Mad God of the Toltecs”.
If you can get away to Masset on Haida Gwaii, that is the place to stay!
Has anyone heard how Stephen is doing?

Mom and Me

Kay-Mom

Many years earlier, Kay McCracken’s mother, Marion, had a tough time with her young daughter.

The vice principal, a 6 ft.5 heavy-set, sadistic brute wearing a black suit, came at me with his mean black eyes, wielding a lethal-looking strap. I smelled fear.

He lifted himself up higher to get better leverage, brought the strap down hard, striking my virgin flesh with such violence, and the pain, I’d never felt pain like that and before I could breathe down it came again. Three assaults on each hand. He did his best to do damage, to make a point, to teach me a lesson. To punish me.

Mom didn’t tell Dad, thank God, but that night at the dinner table I had trouble holding my knife and fork with aching, swollen hands.

– from Kay’s new memoir, Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey, available here at Kay’s page

A Letter From Inside

Detained in solitary confinement, Osman Kavala has been able to get a letter out.

When I was taken into custody on board returning from Gaziantep, I was not worried. I counted on that it would be understood immediately that the suspicions against me are unwarranted. Yet, my arrest and the accusations that led to my arrest came as a surprise to me…

…read more: Letter from Osman Kavala

Double Header BOOK LAUNCH – Feb. 16th

Rutherford Press is proud as punch to invite you to a Double Header Book Launch!

Kay McCracken will be reading from her new memoir, Beyond the Blue Door: a writer’s journey.

And! Ben Nuttall-Smith will be reading selections from his new books, Crescent Beach Reflections, Discovered in a Scream, and Mad God of the Toltecs.

Mark it on your calendar!

Friday, February 16th at 6:00 pm

at Qualicum Beach Civic Centre, Windsor Rm.

This facility is at the terminus, called Ravensong Exchange, for BC Transit bus #91 Intercity, which comes directly from Nanaimo’s Woodgrove Mall, and also, periodically, starts right at the Departure Bay Ferry Terminal:

Of course, this will be a free event. There will be a donation box for those who are able to contribute to the expenses – much appreciated!
Drinks and snacks will be provided.
Come and see your reading friends!

As the room may quickly become filled, we ask that you RSVP your attendance intention at YES

Why Are Sentences So Complex?

Oral versus written communication – which is better at conveying your thoughts?

This article has numerous, fascinating answers. Reading through to a few of them will expand a writer’s understanding of conversational writing.

The moral of the story is that Reading Is Good For You:

http://nautil.us/issue/54/the-unspoken/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-english-sentence?utm_source=frontpage&utm_medium=mview&utm_campaign=the-rise-and-fall-of-the-english-sentence

Extract:

“More people now read—because they have to—but many probably still consume the vast bulk of their linguistic diet in spoken form and may have little patience for writing that is mentally taxing and reeks of snobbery. The need to make text accessible to a broader population, with a wide range of linguistic experiences, has created some pressure to bring the structures of written English more in line with spoken English.

“Still, the English language represents not a single ecosystem, but many. A bird’s eye view of the overall trajectory of English would miss some of the most dramatic changes occurring within its particular linguistic niches. That brings to the fore another key reason why language might gravitate toward streamlined syntax: the nature of the communities that use it.”

Dynamic Presenter

Ben Nuttall-Smith’s highly regarded workshop, the Dynamic Presenter, will be given free at the Vancouver Public Library’s lower level on December 9th at 2:00 pm.

Please call to confirm your attendance: 604-331-3603

Shuswap Writers Events

Askew’s Foods’ Word on the Lake Writing Contest is now open and will close at midnight on February 28, 2018.

Contestants may submit original unpublished works in the following categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. First place winners will receive a cash prize of $150 plus a 2018 conference package, Saturday Night Award Ceremony ticket, and be published in the Askews’ Foods’ Word on the Lake Anthology, which will be available at the festival and after the Festival through Bookingham Palace Books, Salmon Arm BC.

Winners will be contacted prior to Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival, May 11 – 13, 2018 at the Prestige Harbourfront Resort and Okanagan College in Salmon Arm, BC and will be recognized at the Saturday night festivities. For further details concerning the writing contest including submission guidelines, and information about the Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival go to wordonthelakewritersfestival.com.

Mary-Lou McCausland, Writing Contest Co-coordinator

778-489-3331

contest.saow@gmail.com

…………….

A Note about Shuswap Association of Writers

The above media release announcing the Askews’ Foods Writing Contest which opened December 1, 2017 and which is a feature of this year’s Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival is a Shuswap Writers Association programme to encourage emerging writers. Would you kindly make this announcement available through your public service announcements, newsletter, postings or emails to whomever you think may wish to participate so that we may reach as many writers who may be interested as possible?

Celebrating its fifteenth year, Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival provides a three-day conference that attracts participants primarily from British Columbia and Alberta. We are fortunate to have bestselling authors such as

Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival is the major annual event of the Shuswap Association of Writers which is a BC registered Society based in Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Our mandate is to organize events to enrich the cultural life in our community and British Columbia, with a focus on the Written Arts.

Shuswap Association of Writers wishes to acknowledge the support of Askew’s Foods, who through their sponsorship, made this writing contest possible.

Thank you for helping us reach out to the writing community with this offer.

Kay Johnson

President,

Shuswap Association of Writers

250-832-3028

shuswapassociationofwriters.ca

………..

Word on the Lake Writers’ Festival (WOTL) May 11 – 13, 2018, Salmon Arm, BC.

WOTL is bringing back two all-time favourites: Arthur Black and Grant Lawrence of CBC fame and fortune.

Other award-winning authors confirmed for 2018: Sheri-D Wilson, C.C. Humphries, Jacqueline Guest, Ian Weir, Jack Whyte, and publisher Howard White (Harbour Publishing & Douglas & McIntyre).

As other presenters are added we’ll let you know.

Thanks,

Kay McCracken

Promotion Committee

Word on the Lake Writers Festival

Email: kaymcc1@shaw.ca

Phone: 1-250-832-6083

www.wordonthelakewritersfestival.com

FAST

While my authors have had real adventures around the world, their publisher has confined himself to local excitement.
In preparation for our big move to Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island, I was getting the old condo ready for its new owners.
I had a stroke. The stroke was a surprise, needless to say, and perhaps more so to my friends and family. I have not eaten any meat since I was five and am physically active (having played briefly for the Hamilton Tigercats and Montreal Allouettes) and I bike and walk every day. Don’t drink more than a few glasses of wine a year and have never smoked. So it seems the higher fat yogurt for dessert, and snackfood muffins from Tims are a problem 😕.
As a writer, I am compelled to set down events – you are certainly not obliged to read this but perhaps my lesson can be your lesson:
Had the stroke on Monday, alone, while putting the last of our boxes together. I had done a deep cleaning of the fridge then pulled it out to clean around it.
Looking up from the floor, it was quite frustrating to discover that my whole left side had suddenly decided to go on strike. A simple pull up of the body was quite simply no longer possible.
When I lost all control of my left leg and arm I had gone down hard. The formidable bruises show where I fell, then subsequently crawled on my back. (My wife was freaked out by the bruises more than when, over the previous 2 weeks, I had a series of heavily flowing nosebleeds – connection?). Those bruises looked a lot worse, apparently, due to the blood thinners the doctors from VGH’s Stroke Clinic used on me. Especially the life-saving tPA.
Anyway, incapacitated on my back, I recognized the stroke (please do look up “FAST”, with respect to strokes) and quickly found that my only form of locomotion was to push on my back with my right arm and leg. I pushed out of the kitchen to the stairs where my phone was sitting two boxes high. Slithering up stairs is really hard with only one side working. The set of black bruises on my back matches the distance between stairs. That maneuver took a surprising amount of effort.
Finally I got high enough to reach the phone, called 911 and told them to contact the manager or someone to get into the condo building’s front door.
Then I had to flop back to my prone position, without hitting my head, to reach the unit’s front door. It was locked, of course, and having just sold the condo I couldn’t have some beast of a fireman smash through it. Imagine the cost 😊.
The 911 operator advised me to come back to the phone, which I had put on speaker. Right.
Made it to the door and found a clothing brush that I had placed inside the piano seat at the door, unused for 5 years. With it I was barely able to reach up high enough from the floor to knock open the lock. It was just in time for the eager mob of firemen and paramedics to stomp down the long hall. Thanks, guys, for opening the door carefully.
The paramedics went through a protocol that I was to hear endlessly over the next week from every medical specialist who saw me: “What happened? What day is it?” “Where are you?” “Can you move this arm?” “Can you press these toes up against my hand?”
Agreeing with me that I had experienced a stroke, that protocol was enacted. Fortunately, the paramedics followed the stroke protocol and skipped past Richmond hospital (1 kilometer away and en route) to take me directly to Vancouver General.
A really good move. That specialist stroke team zipped through their own stroke protocol (which, yes, included all the previous questions). With CAT scans, they determined that the blockage was not bleeding, so they were free to inject the tPA. On interrogation they couldn’t really come up with a cause for the blockage, other than the possibility that all the airline miles I had put in during my younger years had produced deep vein thrombosis, causing a pulmonary embolism in my lungs. A capitalist shout-out to the airlines for making flying both remarkably uncomfortable as well as medically dangerous! Indeed, the filter did later catch a few more little globs migrating up. (Is there a class action lawyer in the house?)
This being their one clue to go on, they inserted a temporary filter in my one artery coming from my right leg.
As they wrapped me up on the operating table, the neurosurgeon, Dr. Gary Redekop, finished by saying, “Hold up your left arm and wave.”
I did and he said, “Take that picture! He’s the poster boy for what needs to be done correctly!”
They kicked me out in a week. No physical or mental ill effects at all. If the whole event had taken more than 2-3 hours I would be in a wheelchair now.
The whole team, including stroke and heart specialists (who were confused by my weird neandertal specs for blood and and heart rate), radiology techs (even the young newbie who was tasked with ultrasounding my cohones – still not sure why?), the nurses on 2 floors, dieticians, gurney drivers and cleaners all did an outstanding, professional job.
The followup team led by Dr. Sharan Mann is making sure I stay away from their kind services in the future. Heartfelt thanks to all!
My new diet is being aggressively supervised by my son and wife. Oh well. So much for Tim’s muffins and donuts. Come to think of it, Qualicum Beach only has really good, locally made food in their cafes. Maybe that’s what happens when you have a town of “survivors”. QB boasts the oldest average age of any municipality in BC. The sirens rarely sound here, as opposed to their constant wail in the Lower Mainland.
After being kicked out of the hospital I was supposed to restrict over-exertion. Being temporarily alone in the new house full of boxes and furniture means that nobody could scold me for pushing it all around. The rug shampooer really wasn’t that heavy, and the queen-sized mattresses move fairly easily if one swears a lot at them. That slope up the thick front lawn provides an excellent workout, just like my therapist recommended. Sort of.
I decided to forego painting all the rooms at this time. Just some trim touchup around the outside. Oh, the garden. Even after I pointed out to my long-suffering wife that our street name was in honour of a Scottish castle, she still did not consent to leaving the thistles in the garden. A couple of them looked like they were quite prepared to be the Scottish equivalent of Jack’s beanstock. Alas, they are now in the bin.
Sincere apologies to my wife and son for putting you through this adventure! At least we are all eating much better now.
The publishing business is back online and in production! Thank you to my authors for your very kind patience.

Is Equality A Good Goal?

First, some definitions. “Equality” is what? Income; access to making income; material goods; time to enjoy one’s pursuits; treatment vis-a-vis others; treatment vis-a-vis authorities/gatekeepers; access to the necessities of life; and so on.

“Good” may be considered from the personal, family, community, social, species, biosphere perspective.

“Goal” may be a clearly defined end result; an achieved state or condition that extends though a period of time; a stretch goal; a general state or condition whose definition depends on a consensus arrived at by personal, family, community, social, species, or biosphere agreement; serendipity accepted as willful action.

Looking for something?

For most people the response would be, “It’s my ox being gored so that is how I will choose to see it.

In his opus, The Quest for a Moral Compass, Kenan Malik, in chapt. 2, touches on Plato’s views on equality and democracy:

A democrat puts all “his pleasures on an equal footing”, “always surrendering rule over himself to which ever desire comes along, as if it were chosen by lot”. Political equality inevitably leads to a coarseness of culture and to an anything-goes morality, a claim that finds an echo among modern conservatives.

The only society worse than a democracy is a tyranny. This is not the opposite of democracy but is rather democracy fully played out, a society in which every form of behaviour, including murder and disrespect for law, becomes acceptable.

Note that this was written before the current US President’s statement, on the campaign trail, that it would be acceptable for him to shoot a person on a New York street, or his subsequent disparagement of court rulings that were against his wishes.

In Ethics, Responsibilities & Sustainability, Robert Sexty, in chapt. 2, defines “equality of opportunity”:

The assumption that all individuals or groups have an even chance at responding to some condition in society.

Sexty goes on to say:

Many of those involved in Canadian business in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were attracted to Canada because there was less influence exerted by nobility, landed gentry, and a rigid class system in North America than in Europe.

He goes on to offer an interesting take on the difficult dichotomy between a capitalist system and the goal of equality of opportunity. Presuming that capitalism is self-defined as producing inequalities such as of income, the goal is switched to “equality of results”. Perhaps this redefinition is another way of saying, “It’s not the gun that kills…”

The human resources text, Strategic Compensation in Canada, by Richard Long, understandably avoids discussion of individual equality and moral or ethical implications therein. Long does define equity theory:

Employees’ base perception of equity (fairness) on a comparison of their contributions/rewards ratio to the ratios of others perceived as being similar.

The HR business requirement is, of course, to maintain harmony in a company and to promote effective use of employees’ capabilities to the benefit of the organization. This common understanding of “fairness” in a relationship seems to be the only universally agreed definition of equity that can withstand the contemplative slings of philosophers.

It has not been long, historically, since some people in society first turned their attention in specific ways to the possibility of a society that is predicated on non-privileged expectations like “liberty, equality, fraternity”. Or, in the USA, their 14th amendment to the constitution which states all citizens shall be afforded “equal protection of the laws”. In Canada, and in other countries that used the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as a model, equality rights are clarified: “Everyone has the right not to be discriminated against by the government based on personal characteristics”.

These examples refer to an individual’s rights with respect to government action or inaction. The intent was to place on the table a template by which individuals or business entities were expected to model their non-governmental behaviour. It was subsequently found necessary in every case to enact legislation that went beyond the expectation of voluntary compliance.

Equality, however one defines it, is new. Its application in societies that have professed to adopt it has been spotty. But many writers and activists have gone further to say that some form of equality should be codified into law.

In factors such as health coverage, it is instructive to discover the dichotomy that can arise between constitutional equality and corporate profit. A 2011 OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) study, echoed in 2017 with similar results, found that the USA stands out: “the United States spends two-and-a-half times more than the OECD average health expenditure per person.” (http://www.oecd.org/els/health-systems/health-data.htm).

While all the other countries studied have some form of universal health coverage, only the USA does not. The cost per person for health care in the USA averages about $8000, while the OECD average is about $3500.  The profit motive easily trumps the 14th amendment right to equal protection under the law.

So, equality is at risk whenever it bumps up against the financial interests of privileged groups. Far from being a universal Right, equality is easily reduced to a glimmer in some unimportant eyes.

Can the topic be approached in a different way? If you can’t beat them, should they be joined? In Nautilus magazine, an engineer by the name of Venkat Venkatasubramanian offers the opinion that there is a mathematical formula for the ideal level of inequality (http://nautil.us/issue/52/the-hive/is-there-an-ideal-amount-of-income-inequality). The purpose seems to be finding that level of being held down by gatekeepers of the privileged groups in such a way that it does not bring out the urge to gather pitchforks.

It may be argued that the Occupy movement shows we have passed beyond that level. However, the sound of swooshing pitchforks that were heard in Paris of the 1790s are absent today. Outside of the folks involved in movements such the Arab Spring, those of us thinking about the subject briefly between our 2 or 3 jobs may have forsaken direct action for a more sedate round of periodic (and usually virtual) “activism”.

Is the formula correct? Perhaps the right level of inequality has been found.

Perhaps equality is not a worthwhile goal? Who really wants it, anyway?

Is Your Story Compelling?

Compelling Stories

George Opacic

Respected literary artists writing fiction, whether they know it or not, usually employ techniques from musicians, weavers, painters and choreographers.

Compelling stories are a balance of the coherent retelling of a series of events, artistically peppered with elements of emotional content. View the result in your mind as a musical composition: it can’t be all crescendo, or a constant wail; the melody has to move up and down the scale in both pleasing and surprising ways.

Weave your story with characters that have their own personality. Place them within a landscape that is replete with colours and texture. Keep your readers’ interest with a smattering of the familiar, perhaps with an edge, but also take them off to fascinating places they wish they could experience in person. Maintain a reasonable reality, within the context of the genre, but push the details and nuances of your story to the edge of what the story-line will reasonably allow.

Construct the framework and background for the story separately, then use that blueprint as you build your tale. Add the elements of interest and intrigue. Craft your approach to unexpected plot twists by respecting the reader’s intelligence with not-so-obvious planted clues, then hit them between the eyes with it. They will think back and say, “Ah-ha!”

It should not be clear that the protagonist will save the day in the end. Conflict and struggle must spill onto your canvas. Move the characters through scenes so that they, and the reader, does not get bored. Cute antics or monologues unrelated to carrying the story forward will get you no marks from the reader. The framework is the place for the cute antics or philosophical monologues. If they really fit as connection points to the tale, they may be added to the manuscript. Otherwise, file them for another time.

Compelling stories are remembered because they form a strong emotional hook. That hook has to be connected to a physical line that is either immediately believable and comfortable, or transports the reader to a world within which the reader feels relaxed, jarred, angered, empathetic, horrified, vindicated… The emotion is what holds your reader’s eyes to the page.

 

What Is Happening To Our Glaciers?

Justa-ice

Those who have explored the Alaskan coast report seeing changes over the years. Glaciers are retreating back past anything seen before.

When Patrick and Heather Hill sailed north in 1978, then again 2012 and 2015, they went despite the warning published in Alaskan Pilot: “The Aleutian Low looms over the North Pacific as a climatic warning to mariners navigating the Alaskan waters… Sustained winds may reach 60 to 70 knots… [with] extreme wave heights of 60 to 70 feet.”

Braving the potential weather issues, they found that, for instance, the Hubbard Glacier at Yakutat Bay used to cover the whole bay in the 12th Century. It has retreated to considerable extent, so that in recent times it separated into several smaller glaciers around the land bordering Canada and Alaska. Any further retreat could open an access to the sea for Canada at that point.

In addition to seeing the glaciation that had occurred over time, Patrick and Heather both felt and viewed earthquake damage. They were cruising leisurely around Prince William Sound, when they heard “a rumbling throughout the boat… A very alarmed crew, also realising it was an earthquake, erupted into the cockpit wondering what might happen next… Heather’s reaction was, ‘We should watch if the sea level is dropping.'” That would have been an indication that a tsunami was approaching, which would have tossed the boat onto the shore.

It didn’t. The earthquake was measured at 6.4, having done some damage to their next port of call, Valdez.

The combination of dramatic storms, calving glaciers and earthquakes made the Alaska trip full of present-day adventure and wonder at the past events that have shaped the coast.

Their book is available here: “Explore the Alaskan Coast”

Publishing and Dinosaurs

x
Literary artists may wish to note, if it is of any interest, the plaintive honks of a scribe committed to a dying industry. He/she neither seems to be familiar with the current terminology nor how to read statistics.
From BC Bookworld, Summer 2017 edition, page 41:

Hardly anybody would listen, but we did tell you that ebooks were a trumped-up fad, mostly promulgated by self-interested parties, and the format is so obviously inferior to the feel of a printed book that it couldn’t possibly replace real books. According to Publishers Weekly, ebook unit sales from reporting publishers were down 16% in 2016 from 2015. The sky has not fallen.

It is the publishing paradigm that is failing.
“Ebooks” are only a component of the new paradigm, and to isolate one’s analysis to that aspect is to emulate the brontosaurus tribe who were looking up at a falling asteroid and saying, “That’s just a chunk of rock. It can’t do us any harm.”
Like Sears, Eatons, etc., the self-absorbed gatekeepers of a dying business model that are to be found in the remnants of “the publishing industry” seem to have learned skills that serve only to advance their narrow view of the world. Large and lumbering as they are, it remains to the brave adventurers of a different sort to dash around the plodding fossils.
There are a few in that traditional industry who have, in fact, moved on. But why would they mentor their fellow dinosaurs? The small, quick and agile publishers will keep their new knowledge to themselves, allowing the designated scribe-gatekeepers to pompously proclaim that the sky isn’t falling. We know, of course, that the only surviving dinosaurs are now known as “birds” – a radical departure from the lumbering behemoths of the pre-asteroid days.

SUPPORT BOTH THE BIRDS AND THE SCURRYING MAMMALS!