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  • Kurt Brindley 11:01 am on February 21, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Colson Whitehead, literary authors, , National Book Award, , The Underground Railroad, writers,   

    Meet our 2016 National Book Award Winner 


    Colson Whitehead was born in 1969, and was raised in Manhattan. After graduating from Harvard College, he started working at the Village Voice, where he wrote reviews of television, books, and music… COLSONWHITEHEAD.COM



    (More …)

  • Kurt Brindley 1:21 pm on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Elizabeth Gilbert, , , , the art of writing, , writer's groups, writers,   

    Why Write, Dammit?! 

    The Writing Hand

    I’m not a very good writer, by which I don’t only mean it in regards to what I’ve written, but also and mostly to how I’ve written.

    The act of writing pains me and I’ll pretty much do anything mostly legal I can to get myself out of it. I guess the best way to express how I feel about writing is: I don’t like having to write, but I truly love having had written.

    But still, I don’t really know why I do feel the need to write except that there is some unidentified force and/or source beyond my reach and comprehension that obliges me to do so.

    (More …)

    • Jules 1:48 pm on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      Whether your writing is good or not isn´t really useful for you to say. I so often hear people say ‘oh, it is so well written’ about some book and mostly people don´t know what they are saying. Bestsellers are rarely great prose, and why should it matter so much? Poetry has to be good writing, but in fiction it is the story that count and the mind that convey the story.

      Your other point, the one about being impelled to write and the suffering it brings along (a product of feeling inadequate, I suppose), could be suggestion from your omniscient inner being to concentrate your shit.
      I know you guys who are glued to blog feel obliged to post every day. Now, ehem, hear my words of wisdom – if they´re within reach: good music needs silence.

      So to answer your question. Don’t! If you have to ask why, don’t do it. Or, correction, do it less. Distil your stuff. Respect the trees, respect the energy consumption. Your everyday writing is surely more costly to planetary warming that any old cow farting in the field.

      Liked by 1 person

    • That Wilder Girl 5:37 pm on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      It’s an interesting question that depends a lot on what I’m writing and what else is going on in my life. Right now, for instance, I feel pressure/desire to write but know it won’t be very good because I’ve got errands to run. Writing is often very rewarding, but you have to push through initial blocks or obstacles. In that sense, I think it shares a lot with other crafts. Not easy, but fulfilling.

      Liked by 1 person

    • umashankar 11:59 pm on February 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I take a lot of solace in Hemingway’s statement: ‘For a long time now I have tried to simply write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.’

      Indeed, sometimes I have those fleeting streaks of good luck. I write because it is the best of my faculties. In other words, I am not aware of anything I do better. Of course, the readers carry their own touchstones, and surely, there are much better writers out there. I love the sensation of attaining a fulfilment after wrapping up a piece of writing. Many times though it gives me hell too, when I am not satisfied with my output.

      Liked by 2 people

    • em4mighty 2:19 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      i have discovered that i write as a meditation & as an exorcism. it feels better to get it out of me. i grew up in an abusive household. i started writing to stay alive, to stay sane…ish.


    • Mellow Curmudgeon 4:21 pm on February 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      The blogger Elusive Trope once remarked that sometimes an idea for a post feels like a bowling ball rolling around in his head until he finally writes it up. I sometimes have that feeling. There is also the matter of control. I have way too little control over what happens to me or my loved ones or my nation’s dwindling capacity for liberal democracy. But I can still choose words.


    • KatieComeBack 9:52 pm on February 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      I write because it’s very convenient therapy,

      It’s interesting…I’ll sit down thinking I’m going to write about a thing….and I end up taking that mental left turn at Albequerque. But when I’m done, I find that I’ve expressed something that needed to come out. And it often surprises me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley 12:20 am on February 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply

        Yes, writing has been very therapeutic for me as well. Thanks for taking the time to share this with us, KCB.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Kurt Brindley 12:23 pm on December 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Christmas Shopping, crafts, , , , , , Writer's Life, writers,   

    The Writer’s Life Series 




     and then you write


    Customize Coffee Mugs, Tee Shirts,
    Bumper Stickers, Buttons, and More
    at the RELATING TO HUMANS Kiosk



    The Writer's Life Series 001

    Click to Order or Shop



  • Kurt Brindley 12:34 pm on May 8, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    Writer’s Block Is Only In Your Mind… 

    And That’s The Problem.




  • Kurt Brindley 12:55 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , composing, , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    At least when the robots take over they will be much quicker in rejecting one of my stories… 

    Robot Editor

    You know, seeing how we already have robots writing poetry and composing music, I assume we will soon have robots taking over as reviewers and editors, as well.

    I yearn for that day…

    You see, months and months ago — essentially an eternity in our hyper-paced, brain-frazzling, tele-connected, continually-morphing-right-before-our-eyes day and age — in an effort to enhance (establish?) my writing cred, I submitted a couple short stories to various literary journals in the hope that they will get selected to be published so that when I self-publish my short story collection I can add a highfalutin aside within the book’s front matter that gives a self-congratulatory thank you to these literary journals for their wisdom and insight in selecting my work to be published.

    Can ya dig?

    I bet you can…

    As I’m sure you suspect, I subject myself to the subjective and contrary literary values of these human reviewers and editors because, just between you and me, I (like most other self-published authors I suspect) would like to someday be an unself-published author and be recognized as a “real writer” within the old slow (really, really slow) world of traditional publishing. (A good read on the question of whether one should self-publish or not can be found here.)

    But man* let me tall ya that from all the brain-scattering hyperlinking/twittering/buzzfeeding** I’m now addicted to, I’ve become a very impatient man***, which is why back in 2011, after experiencing how long it took agent after agent to reject my highly exceptional queries (that, and because back then I wasn’t sure I would be of this world too much longer) I began all this ego-degrading self-publishing and self-marketing nonsense in the first place.

    And which is why now, months and months after submitting my highly exceptional short stories to these good-fortuned literary journals I am getting extremely impatient with their less than expeditious responses and am once again beginning to rethink my strategy for literary fame and wealth, all of which is causing me to consider withdrawing my submissions and just go ahead and publish the damn short story collection minus the self-congratulatory front matter aside.

    Big sigh


    Off I go to my Submittable account for the third time this morning to see if the status of any of my submissions have magically changed to something other than “In-Progress.” At this point, I would celebrate even a status of “Declined” just so I can move on in certitude and vigor.

    And, while I’m (over-)indulging in my self-inflicted publishing pain at Sumbittable, I invite you to indulge in a short piece of mine that was actually selected to be published by a highly respected (at least by me) though highly unknown independent publisher, and which can be found by click clicking right here.

    Right on?

    Yeah, write on…

    *non-gender specific
    **included for dramatic purposes only – I’ve never actually been on buzzfeed…no, really
    ***gender specific


    • tmezpoetry 1:09 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      haha love it! And I love the story too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • E 1:36 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Seconded on both accounts. (And on lack of buzz feed as well. It always worries me that it sounds like an invitation to stinging insects to feast upon my flesh!)

      Liked by 1 person

    • From The Pews 3:23 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ah, yes…the age of robots…
      Perhaps then I too may become a writer ;)

      Truly enjoyed your piece!!! And the brilliant artwork too!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mike Fuller Author 4:01 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I think it’s sort of like hiring someone to take your used car to the scrap yard and sell it for you. Agents are really salesmen, er, I mean sales persons. Really, unless you are famous or infamous and complications ensue around agreement on a publishing contract for the agent to play attorney and smooth out for you, they sell. The scrapyard wants a shiny BMW they can polish and detail and turn around for a nice profit. But mostly they get dented Fords that probably will sit on the lot out front with soaped numbers on the windshield that change downward as time moves on. And the agents tell us that offers on hundreds of crappy cars come to them every week. Too many to deal with and not a shiny BMW in the bunch, only that six year old Taurus now and then mixed in with all the “had to be pushed onto the lot” junkers. But we all think our writing is that BMW and send off to New York to the Ivy and near-Ivy League graduates sitting in tenth floor offices sifting through their three month backlog of e-mails and hitting the form rejection button or just ignoring it all. But alas, times change. Now anyone with a Dell or a Macbook can be their own car lot and put it all out there for good or no. And now that the price of gas has lowered and Kindle is paying by the page, well, we’ll all be in Armani and eating filet before you know it!

      Liked by 2 people

    • maggie0019 4:14 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m right (write) with there with you, human! Woof!

      Liked by 1 person

    • pezoldo 11:45 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like publishing is a real pain… is there any advice you would give to aspiring writers (like me :S) about trying to get published/self-publishing?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kurt Brindley 5:55 pm on August 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        If you can afford it, hire someone to do all the technical stuff so you can focus as much as possible on arranging words in new and amazing ways. :)

        Liked by 2 people

    • Senseless Rambler 9:33 am on August 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Great article, Kurt. Think I’ll just stick to the self-controlled blogging. Might be as much publishing as I can handle. Keep up the great work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley 5:53 pm on August 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, self-publishing surely has its challenges. Thanks so much for your kind, encouraging words, SR. Much appreciated.


    • shehannemoore 9:36 am on August 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Only months and months and months and more months? You’ve still a long time to wait then……

      Liked by 1 person

    • Robyn 1:36 pm on August 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Kurt, Kurt, Kurt. Where do I begin?! Okay, agents. Not needed. Self publishing is no longer ‘inferior’ to traditional publishing; I’m vegetarian, but I’d kill that particular sacred cow right now! Let the readers make the judgements, not the editors [who often have an agenda if employed with publishing houses]. And behold the contempt that you have been treated with, Kurt, having to wait this length of time for feedback on your art. I guess the question is this: from whom, as writers, do we seek validation? Readers? Check. Ourselves? Check. As writers, we’re living in hugely exciting times; never has there been so, so much opportunity to make a good living from writing. And self publishing – or, as I call it, independent publishing is a fantastic movement and we should embrace it fully. I don’t see it as inferior to trad. publishing in any shape or form. It’s about mindset, essentially.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley 5:24 pm on August 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Wow, three Kurts in one sentence – I must be in trouble. Rest assured, it’s all in good fun, my friend, as I don’t take this subject, or just about any subject – including and especially any subject pertaining to me – too seriously, if at all. That said, you offer some very sound advice, Robyn, Robyn, Robyn… :)


  • Kurt Brindley 2:24 pm on August 22, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , horror stories, , , , , writers, ,   

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer Contemplates the Horror Potential of U.S. Politics… 

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer

  • Kurt Brindley 7:28 am on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Jason Greensides, , , , , writers, ,   

    A Guest Post by Author Jason Greensides 

    Mysterious Characters and Unforgivable Acts of Violence
    by Jason Greensides

    One piece of writing advice that never set well with me – however useful it is at a practical level – is to know your characters: that you should be able to understand every little aspect of your character if you ever want them to be believable, sympathetic, and to leap off the page. Of course, in general this is useful advice, however, not only has this the potential to make writing less fun (one of the reasons I write is to discover something I didn’t know), but seems a fundamental flaw in how we should perceive other people in everyday life, particularly the violent and anti-social ones. It presupposes that characters and real people can be fully understood (and therefore judged), which I believe to be not only impossible, but ethically wrong.

    The Baltimore Riots and other events of social upheaval always produce the same reaction in me. Not: How could those people act that like that? But: How could those reporting on events (which, because of ‘likes’, shares and unseen algorithms, is actually you and I), cast absolutist judgement upon people whose circumstances we can’t fully comprehend, as they themselves can’t. This too is another reason why I hate that writing mantra Know your characters: How can I truly know my characters when I don’t understand all the things that make me me?

    Not only do the episodes of one’s own life seen through the lens of chance obfuscate analysis of what motivates us – our childhood, our parent’s lives, our grandparent’s lives, and back through human history – but at a genetic level, when you analyse how genes move from generation to generation through natural selection. It is the interplay between their outward characteristics and the environment in which they find themselves, not foresight or inherent strength, that ensures their survival through time. Once you know this, you can’t help but come to the conclusion that really genes just make this shit up as they go along.

    Then there are random geological and cosmic events that shape the course of the planet and life as a whole – an endless swirling and shifting series of events with (possibly) no primary cause, adding yet more uncertainly about what made us who we are.

    And at the atomic level, Heisenberg stated that you can’t know the position and momentum of a particle to 100% accuracy. So if you can’t know that then how can you know everything about someone’s deeper motivations, which in turn are obscured by their own life’s events, and in turn their understanding of those same events.

    Life is brimming with chance and the ever unknowable – it’s everything but perfect and absolute – and this is what we (as artists, as writers) must embrace if our work, however down-to-Earth, is to reflect the great mystery of existence.

    The hard thing about this is, of course, when writing so called ‘evil’ characters (and if you’re still with me you’ll agree this is a useless term), or seeing ‘evil’ acts play out in society, trying to suspend judgement upon them is one of the hardest things we can do. If a group of guys broke into my house, for example, and assaulted me and my wife, I too would call them evil, would want absolute judgement to squeeze the breath from their throats. I too would not be able to forgive.

    But we must try, because ultimately, however you think about it, there had to have been at least one Nazi who, while placing the cold barrel of his Luger to the back of the head of a Polish Jew, thought, ‘Seriously, what the hell am I doing?; there must have been one Cheka officer who, while denying a Kulak his daily allowance of bread, thought, ‘My wife is really not going to like this’; there must have been one RPKAD commando in Indonesia who, before raping the fifteen-year-old daughter of a suspected Communist, thought, ‘What if my own daughter found out?’ Then moral complexity is further muddled when we do not consider pilots of Allied forces carrying out the bombing of Dresden as monsters, do not view leaders of the Western world as having committed an atrocity when imposing economic sanctions on Iraq.

    So, suspend your judgement in everyday life, if you can (and I, for my part, will try to suspend my judgement upon those who deal with sweeping, all-inclusive statements of evil), and maybe, just maybe, the characters you create may have a little mystery, may have a little of the unknown, may be dynamic enough to hold our attention until the last page.

    Jason Greensides

    Jason Greensides

    The Distant Sound of Violence

    A contemporary novel by Jason Greensides

    WEBSITE: JasonGreensides.com
    TWITTER: @jasongreensides
    FACEBOOK: facebook.com/jasongreensidesauthor
    GOODREADS: goodreads.com/Jason_greensides


    • Aimer Boyz 11:06 pm on May 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for your literate, logical defense of NOT knowing your character’s every quirk and dimple before you start writing. I not only find that impossible but unnatural. A stranger becomes a friend over time, through shared conversations and experiences. So too, my characters evolve over time through scenes and dialogue. To me, NOT knowing your characters but, rather, learning to know your characters as you write seems more authentic.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Robert Mitchell 5:23 am on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      A brave statement — not only on the subject of knowing one’s characters but with regard to the nature of evil. I would add that the best fictional villains, like their real life counterparts, are trying to do what they think is right and struggling with their internal demons. Vlad the Impaler is a hero in his homeland, and Columbus a villain to the native cultures he destroyed.

      Liked by 2 people

    • jasongreensides 6:01 am on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I completely agree, Aimer. Discovering and getting to know my characters as I go along is where all the fun is!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jason Greensides 6:15 am on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, Robert Mitchell, the waters of moral judgement are murky indeed

      Liked by 1 person

    • jasongreensides 8:03 am on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on jasongreensides.


    • PaulXylinides, May the mermaids sing to you ... 2:46 pm on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It seems to me that there is a difference between understanding a character’s state of being and capturing one’s sense of it – isn’t that where the interest lies as the act reflects as much upon oneself? Quite right, when one meets someone and detects their good mood, there is no need to wonder if it is due to a perfect latte that morning.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PaulXylinides, May the mermaids sing to you ... 3:06 pm on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      One added thought – a certain type of information would, however, seem essential for the true presentation of a character. If a so-called evil actor’s motivation comes from a particular world view that justifies the act, it would be incumbent to unearth and provide this within the depiction especially if one is fictionalizing historical persons.

      Liked by 1 person

    • jasongreensides 6:06 pm on May 14, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Yes, Paul, that space between a character’s state of being and our sense of it (and how the writer chooses to convey it) is where our work lies – agreed. And yes, of course there’s going to be essential information about a character which must be given to the reader… I just think that if you compiled all the facts of a persons life, for example, put every event in a Excell spreadsheet, you still couldn’t fully make sense of it, there would still be that 1% margin of error…


    • Angel 4 Light 1:31 am on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Reblogged this on Angel 4 Light.

      Liked by 1 person

  • Kurt Brindley 2:40 pm on April 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    Why We Are Here 

    Coming Soon

    LEAVE & Other Stories Short & Shorter

    It seems that some of you may actually think this blog is now about dogs and ramen. It’s not. That post about dogs and ramen was an April Fools’ prank. This blog has been and will continue to be all about books and writing in general and Kurt’s books and writing in particular. Right on?

    Write On!


  • Kurt Brindley 8:44 pm on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , writers, , ,   

    Rub-a-dub-dub?! [Flash Fiction Friday Selection] 

    Ha ha…what more can I say about the two submissions in response to today’s prompt other than they both are frikkin’ awesome and just the bizarre fun and wonder I was hoping for. The only problem is having to choose one over the other.

    I had pretty much resolved myself to the international standard selection process of the Flipping of the Coin to let Chance decide. However, right before the flip, as the coined balanced precariously on my thumb, I manned* up, so to speak, and decided that I would not choose my selection by such a cop-out of a way.

    The selection had to be up to me not a coin. I had to find a way to differentiate between the two. So I got to thinking about what if it were me writing a response to the prompt. Which response would I be more likely to write – the humorous or the macabre? Yeah, you guessed it, I probably would have gone dark with this one.

    Consequently, it is my pleasure to present to you…

    by Josh Wrenn


    Detectives are baffled by findings of human remains found floating in the Channel. All of the dead were cut into pieces, but meticulously scrubbed clean of blood, fingerprints, and other evidence.

    Lead Detective Jeff Murdock would not confirm the rumors that there is a serial killer on the loose, but did confirm that there are multiple victims.

    Anonymous sources within the department tell BBC News that they believe there are at least two victims who were dismembered, cleaned, and then dumped into the Channel.

    BBC News has also learned that a task force dubbed “The Butcher” has been set up within the department but has been unable to determine whether it is related to this case. We have also learned that at least one witness may have been brought in for questioning by the task force.

    In other news:
    The families of Westham’s famous Candlestick Maker, and his friend and world-renowned Baker are asking the public for assistance in finding the two men, who never returned home after a fishing trip. Anyone who knows anything about their whereabouts is asked to call 111.



    Thank you very much Doug and Josh for your awesome stories. If either of you would like a digital copy of one of my selections at Amazon, please contact me through the Contact page and let me know.

    And thank you to all who joined in the fun and took the time to “Like” the selections for yourself. You all, too, are frikkin’ awesome.

    Until tomorrow…

    *non-gender specific


  • Kurt Brindley 1:20 pm on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , writers, , ,   

    Rub-a-dub-dub?! [Flash Fiction Friday Prompt] 

    You know, some of our fairy tales and nursery rhymes can really make one wonder. Well, at least they make me wonder. For instance, I really wonder what the heck the impetus was for the creation of Three Men in a Tub.

    Three men in a tub,
    And who do you think they were?
    The butcher, the baker,
    The candlestick-maker,
    They all sailed out to sea,
    ‘Twas enough to make a man stare.


    But weird is cool because with it there often comes such wonderful possibilities. Such as the all the possibilities for the development of interesting back stories that bring light to such an odd, interesting poem.

    And that weird also brings with it the possibility for today’s Flash Fiction Friday prompt.

    Write a 750 word or less fully developed story that includes who the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker are, what their relationship with each other is, and the events and plot lines that lead up to and conclude right before the famous and oft-recited nursery rhyme begins.


    A couple of logistical notes before we begin. I ask that henceforth all submissions for daily prompts be in by 7PMish each evening. That way I’ll have time to read through them and publish the selection by 8PMish.

    And I also ask that there be no comments or other responses to the prompts other than prompt submissions. While I always love to hear from you, as witty and interesting and smart as you are, responses other than ones to the prompt kinda muddles things up a bit and will be deleted. Sorry ’bout that.


    This is germane.


    • Doug 10:09 am on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      It turns out that candles are very attractive to skunks.

      When Bob the butcher and Mort the baker asked me to join them I was a bit skeptical. What use am I going to be in the “eat what you catch” contest At the pub? I own an arts and crafts store. The prize money was tempting, though, so I signed on.

      The plan was for Bob to prepare the night’s catch and that Mort would bake it into a pie. Easy. I was there mostly because I had a truck.

      We didn’t have a lot of success with the trapping. The first two were completely ignored, and the third had been broken and its bait taken.

      When we returned to the truck, however, our luck improved. There was something rummaging around in the back. If we could just grab the critter and bag it, the night wouldn’t be a total waste. We crept up quietly, Mort on the left, Bob on the right. When they counted down silently on fingers Three… Two… One… I pulled open the door.

      You know the rest.

      We need tomato juice. Lots of it.

      Liked by 4 people

    • Josh Wrenn 11:32 am on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply


      Detectives are baffled by findings of human remains found floating in the Channel. All of the dead were cut into pieces, but meticulously scrubbed clean of blood, fingerprints, and other evidence.

      Lead Detective Jeff Murdock would not confirm the rumors that there is a serial killer on the loose, but did confirm that there are multiple victims.

      Anonymous sources within the department tell BBC News that they believe there are at least two victims who were dismembered, cleaned, and then dumped into the Channel.

      BBC News has also learned that a task force dubbed “The Butcher” has been set up within the department but has been unable to determine whether it is related to this case. We have also learned that at least one witness may have been brought in for questioning by the task force.

      In other news:
      The families of Westham’s famous Candlestick Maker, and his friend and world-renowned Baker are asking the public for assistance in finding the two men, who never returned home after a fishing trip. Anyone who knows anything about their whereabouts is asked to call 111.

      Liked by 4 people

  • Kurt Brindley 10:42 am on December 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer reflects on the true meaning of Christmas… 

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer



  • Kurt Brindley 11:01 am on November 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , follow through, , , , , , writers,   

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer reflects on discipline and follow through… 

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer



  • Kurt Brindley 9:37 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    Melissa Barker-Simpson: Author of HANDS OF EVIL – Guest Post (A team is born) 

    Author Melissa Barker-Simpson

    Author Melissa Barker-Simpson

    Kurt kindly allowed me to hi-jack a little blog space to share my story – or at least a chapter or two. I’m sure by now you’re aware my novel, Hands of Evil, is the inaugural review in the new Indie Author Book Selection and Review feature (we really must help out with a new title!). Kurt’s Pick, The Review Challenge…something!

    As you’ll be hearing more about the book (or certainly reading about it), I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself and give you a little background on the novel itself. I feel I should add a disclaimer at this point, because I talk about my characters in a very real sense. It’s how I see them – all the jokes about authors are based on truth; we do hear voices in our head and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I’ve been writing since I could first craft a sentence and it has remained my one true passion. That isn’t to say I don’t have others, but writing is a big part of who I am. I can’t put a number on the short stories I’ve penned over the years, most of them aren’t worth reading, but they helped me hone the craft and continue to do so. We never stop learning and why would we want to?

    Hands of Evil is probably my favourite of the Morgan & Fairchild series (though it’s only the second!). About fifteen years ago a character began to develop in my mind; a protector. His very essence is that of a soldier and he dogged me relentlessly. His name is Brad Morgan and I guess you could say he is to blame for my obsession with all things military.

    Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson

    When I did create a world for him to conquer, although I saw value in the end result, it wasn’t everything I expected it to be. At the time I had a young family and writing took a back seat for a while. That’s not to say Brad left me alone! He remained stoic and determined, waiting patiently for me to flesh out his adventure and commit to sharing it with the world.

    My brother, whom I adore, enlisted in the Army around the time I wrote the book and we talked regularly about his own experiences. I loved listening to him describe his life in the armed forces. The more I listened, the more I began to picture the sense of family in his squad – the unity. It was a connection I hadn’t considered and I knew instinctively it was the element missing from Brad’s story. He didn’t have his family.

    I’m not a planner, I never have been. I give the power to my characters and allow them to tell the story. Then, when it’s done, I go back and use every tool in my arsenal to whip it into shape; plugging those plot holes and polishing the heart of the tale. A fellow writer once taught me the benefit of giving our characters a voice, and so I wrote a piece of free-form fiction, in which I allowed Brad to talk about his team.

    Melissa Barker-Simpson Website

    Visit with Mel at her website mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com

    He introduced me to Kelvin Fairchild, his best friend and co-founder of Morgan and Fairchild. Almost immediately, Susannah McElvogue piped up; the undisputed leader of the group. She hasn’t quit since. I retold the original story, adding Brad’s team and Sins of the Father was born. It was never meant to be a series, and yet I couldn’t walk away from them. As soon as I came to the end of the novel, Brad faded into the background and another member of the team stepped up to the plate (I know, I’m mixing my metaphors!).

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Jonathan Jukes (JJ). He takes far too much responsibility on his shoulders, and his personal demons have haunted him for a long time. He’s skilled, loyal and has a strength others can rely on. It is a pleasure to spend time with him. Hands of Evil is JJ’s story.

    Thanks to Kurt for allowing me to share JJ with you. I’m excited to hear his thoughts on the novel, considering he is a military man. I may even get some tips for the third in the series, which I plan to publish next year. My brother has always been a sound advisor, and I pour over books relevant to the stories I’m planning. In this case it was all things related to close personal protection and the police force.

    I hope you’re still with me at this point, and if you are, thanks for hanging in there!

    It was a pleasure to stop by.



  • Kurt Brindley 10:20 pm on November 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , writers, , wrting humor   

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer reflects on the various Indie Author marketing strategies… 




    • M-R 11:57 pm on November 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      So what does a ‘real’ author do when his/her publisher doesn’t lift a marketing finger …?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 12:05 am on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        I wouldn’t know… I’m one of those wannabe hacks the HDW loathes. I guess you real writers need to work that “problem” out amongst yourselves ;)

        Liked by 2 people

        • M-R 2:21 am on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          I’ve done what I can, and now I’m sick to death of the whole bloody thing.
          People who read it like it, and I may well have to be satisfied with those few into whom I’ve planted the seed: I’ve even grown tired of the library talks.

          Liked by 1 person

      • rod 4:04 am on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        You would have to market on your own account and/or move to a better publisher for future titles.

        Liked by 1 person

        • M-R 5:06 am on November 8, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          It was a rhetorical question, in truth, Rod – I’m an irritating person. :D
          There will be no future titles.
          And I’ve done what I can, with delightful results via my blog,
          being someone with absolutely no disposable income.

          Liked by 1 person

    • jessmbaum 9:42 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Everyone’s a writer now, so we all have to be promoters and vie for attention. I HATE it. haha

      Liked by 1 person

  • Kurt Brindley 3:11 pm on November 7, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Leave, , , , writers,   

    Hey Author, let’s make a deal… 

    Ha ha…remember that Seventies show?

    No..not that That ’70s Show.

    I mean that game show from the Seventies…

    Let’s Make A Deal.


    What was that dudes name? Monty Hall, or something like that?

    And all those crazy contestants all dressed up in their crazy costumes…

    Man, that was awesome…

    Such an awesome way to waste an hour of a life away…and a few good brain cells, too.

    But that’s not why I called you all here today.

    Today we are gathered here to discuss a way for you and I to make a deal of our own…

    A deal all quid pro quo like…

    A way for you to help me help you help me…


    Yeah, well, anyway…As I’ve been sitting here waiting for the dispatch of the inaugural selection for our Indie Author Book Selection & Review to arrive…

    Hands of Evil by Ms Melissa Barker-Simpson

    And waiting…

    And waiting…

    Is the United Kingdom really that far away from the United States?

    And waiting…


    I tell you what, Barker-Simpson, your book better be good for as long as it’s taking to get to me…

    Kinda makes a good tip o’ the hat to e-books, don’t it?

    I could have been done and finished reading it by now if it had been an e-book…

    Well, probably not.

    I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it already…but I’m kind of a slow reader.

    I mean reeeally slow.

    So slow that by the time it takes me to read a book, real or otherwise, a real one could probably have been delivered from the UK.

    Or the end of the universe.

    Which is apparently the same distance…

    Yeah, I read that slow…

    Anyway. . .

    So, I obviously have had a lot of time to think while I’ve been waiting for Melissa’s masterpiece of poetic mojo to arrive…

    And I was thinking that, while this Indie Author Book Selection & Review (Can someone please come up with a better, less exhausting name for this thing?! Maybe we should call it InAuBoSe&ReMo in honor of the NaNoMo…god I can’t even finish writing the acronym its so bad. Well, not as bad as that NaNoBloPoMe thing or whatever that beast is.) is cool and all…and I really hope we do more in the future…I was thinking about other ways for me to find your book so I can read it and love it and review it like a masterpiece of poetic perfection deserves to be reviewed…

    And I was thinking…you know…

    Heck, I’d like my books to be reviewed, too!

    Yup, that’s exactly what I thought.

    Actually, that’s exactly what I think about often.

    I sure wish more readers (and I check my Amazon stats every once in a while (okay, like hourly)…and I see that someone is buying my books, which leads me to believe that they are being read as well, so I think it’s safe for me to assume that I have at least some readers) would leave more reviews.

    I know, I know…

    I know exactly what you’re thinking right now…

    You’re thinking that maybe no one is taking the time to review my books because, maybe, perhaps, it’s a distinct possibility that maybe my writing doesn’t compel these readers of my books to want to write a review for them…

    That’s exactly what you were thinking, I know…

    Because that’s exactly what I’m thinking, too…

    And I think we’re both exactly right on this thought.

    Maybe my stories just aren’t compelling enough…


    But I would like to know for sure.

    And how could I go about doing that, you ask.

    Well, funny you should ask because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about just that lately…

    Seeing I’ve had so much time to think and all.

    And I was thinking that maybe you could read one of my stories for me and write an honest to goodness legitimate review, you know, like a review you might read in a newspaper (if they were to still exist). A review unlike most of the reviews on Amazon. A review with a minimum of at least three (3) paragraphs – an intro, a supporting, and a closing paragraph. You know, basic essay writing that we learned back in grammar school…

    Wait, wait…

    Before you hightail your tail outta here…

    Just listen to what I have to propose first, please.

    (More …)

  • Kurt Brindley 12:20 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , AVi Steinberg, , , , , , , , writers, , , writing philosophy   

    The Happily Disgruntled Writer compares and contrasts differing philosophies on what it means to be a writer… 



    • Laura L. 2:00 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Go be a professional snowboarder—that’s also marvelously pointless, and the parties are better.” :D

      I had a horrible college prof in design who claimed that unless your work could hang in the Louvre there was no point in doing it. Presumably that is why he was teaching? Young and insecure that idiot affected me tremendously, to the point where I gave up painting in lieu of panic attacks when I tried. That idiocy pervaded through a lot of creative work. If I couldn’t be perfect I wouldn’t do. I didn’t write, I didn’t write poetry, I didn’t paint, I didn’t… If I tried I was a basket case.

      The good news is that I have no illusions about ever being a professional writer. Now with the :::cough::: wisdom with mild :::cough::: aging, I have finally started putting some of that nonsense to rest. I’m not trying to make a living. I would love to write a perfect story and I intend to improve and learn and practice. I don’t have to suffer for my art, well, not too much.

      I still can’t pick up a paint brush though. Working on it.


      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 7:01 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Dang, sounds like a real jerk of a professor. I’m pretty sure just about everyone has insecurities when it comes to putting their heartfelt creations out there for all to see and possibly criticize, but it sounds like this less than professorial prof had some serious and deep insecurities, ones that could only be alleviated by inflicting and instilling them in others. Geez, maybe you should write a poem or book using his name in a ridiculing manner, kinda like how Lynyrd Skynyrd took their high school gym teacher’s name Leonard Skinner because he gave them such a hard time for their long hair and whatnot.

        Better yet, paint a smashing caricature of him.

        Own him.


    • Tieme 11:12 am on November 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Sorry Kurt, I might read the article later. I am really tired and was just browsing WordPress for some nice pictures to look at. But this cartoon reminds me of a Dutch song by two singers called Acda & De Munnik. The song is called “Miss you” (Mis ik jou). The song is about the singer always wanted to feel the blues, so he could sing the greatest song and translate the worst pain into words. He always imagined himself after a break-up or heavy incident in life and singing about the bad thing that happened to him: “I can see myself, sitting in front of a window, with a full moon and a glass of red wine and I sing the most heartbreaking songs. But now I finally have the “blues”, I don’t like it.”

      They have some great songs, really mocking writers at Starbucks and such.

      Well, of to get some rest, have a good day sir!


      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 11:16 am on November 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        And there you have just expressed the soul and motivation of The Happily Disgruntled Writer. You captured him perfectly, Tieme. Now, I must find this intriguing duo called Acda & De Munnik. Sleep well, my friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Tieme 11:24 am on November 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          Thanks mate :-) It’s 17:15 o’clock right now, so traveling home from work. Some eating, and I think a 5 mile run and then some sleep :)

          I don’t know how it feels to want pain – well get to think about, we all are psychological masochists in some way and for whatever reason. We all know too how it feels to want to get rid of pain though ;) What I like about the song: it isn’t all negative, in the end they sing: “The blues is great, if you have somebody waiting for you”.


          Liked by 1 person

          • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 11:58 am on November 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

            You don’t know how it feels to “want pain”?! Are you kidding me…you’re voluntarily going on a 5 mile run! If that isn’t wanting pain I don’t what is… :) Yeah man, I def agree about the psychological masochists…that’s why sad songs and novels fair so well. We are the most happy when someone is making us poetically miserable…


    • Lorna's Voice 12:32 pm on November 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      :) Or should I say :( ?

      Liked by 1 person

  • Kurt Brindley 12:01 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , gravatars, , , , , profiles, , writers,   


    Short version – No.

    Less short version – A big fat ontological and/or (your choice) existential, HAYULL NO!

    Look, Poet (and by Poet I mean it to include all Writers and all Artists and all Photographers and all Tree House Interior Designers and all…heck, I guess to me a Poet is just about any daydreaming Creator of the Sublime one could possibly imagine, regardless the flavor) I don’t mean to wax philosophical on your poetically waxing arse, but in my world (which, in my world, is the only world that really matters), if you’re more than two clicks of the mouse away from me, then you, my insecure little dream drawer, are dead to me.

    Wait, if you don’t exist to begin with, then is it still possible for you to be dead to me?

    Oh boy*, this philosophical stuff can get philosophically fuzzy real fast…

    So, what do you say we just take a quick sidestep around that descartianly dangerous detour we were about to head down…

    Besides, it just wouldn’t be rational within the context of me trying to save and secure your irrationally insecure existence within the existence of my irrationally insecure world, which, I believe I already indicated most redundantly, is the only world that really matters.

    Oh boy*…

    So anyway, back to the safety of my shallow point of a “Pro” Tip, if I have to go even slightly out of my way to find you…


    Just like that you disappear.

    Look, for me, and by me I mean us, at least those of us who are out there, and by there I mostly mean in the WordPress Reader, practically 24/7 pounding the pavement and beating the bushes (Coming soon, my next confessional: If I could marry a Cliche I would) looking to be swept off our creative-seeking feet by you and all those Poets who wanna be like you…

    But in order for you to be able to sweep me off my creative-seeking feet, I first must be able to recognize your existence, which means you need to be right there next to me, present and accounted for, ready to welcome me to your domain at a moment’s notice, night or day, rain or shine…(ah, my sexy and ubiquitous little cliches, where would I be without thee? Well, for starters, I just might be properly agented and published, perhaps…sigh)

    (J/k…agents and publishers are for sissies)




    As long as I’m in the WP Reader, it’s all good for the most part.

    In there, I can find you and, if you compel me to do so, there are multiple links within the Reader that I can click that will bring me right like rain into your poetic domain.

    Easy enough…

    But finding you in the WP Reader is all a matter of luck. Posts are flowing fast through that stream, especially in the “Writing” tag where I mostly hang out.

    I’d say chances of me finding you there within all that fanciful flotsam are pretty thin.

    I guess I could find you if I were fortunate enough for you to find me first.

    And now we’re starting to get closer to the quickly dulling point of this “Pro” Tip…

    But we’re still not there yet.

    Because even if you do visit my site the only way I’m going to know about it is if you “Like” or comment on one of my posts.

    And what are the chances of that happening?

    I’d say barely minimal if we were to take into account all the millions of WP Poets who are populating this proliferatingly populated planet.

    But let’s say, for the argument’s sake — and for the merciful sake of me finally getting to the seemingly forever elusive point of this “Pro” Tip — that you did find me and “Like” and/or comment on one of my posts…

    Then, yes, I would have proof of your existence in my Notification Archives, right?

    Right. Of course, right. And that’s great and all…

    At least for a short period of time.

    Because as new notifications come in, the older ones get pushed farther and farther back into the forsaken and forgotten dustbin of digital history until finally…

    You are “poof” no more…

    And that makes me sad.

    But, alas…

    Alas, finally, alas…

    Yay and hurrah, alas, we have finally arrived to the less than pointy tip of the Tip.

    Um, excuse me, would you mind waking up now?


    Alas, we have yet a tiny bit of evidence that may or may not prove that you do exist.

    We have, alas, your gravatar picture located at the bottom of the post, where the “Likes” tend to gather.

    And that, my patient Poet, is where I choose to go, prefer to go, to find you…


    It is from there, that point of positivism where the gravatar representation of you exists, where you and I can hopefully begin to build a long-term friendly and collaborative relationship…

    Or not…

    You know, I like being “Liked.”

    And I like to “Like” things that I like.

    So, I hear you asking, why not put those “Likes” that I like so much together to find new friends and collaborators?


    For me, that is the number one way that I like go about finding new friends and collaborators…by visiting the domains of those who were kind enough to visit my domain and “Like” one of my posts.

    If you “Like”or comment on one of my posts or pages, I can guarantee there will come a day that I will want to return the kindness.

    There will come the day when I will click on your gravatar photo and hope and pray like hayull to the Writing Gods that you have properly set up your Gravatar Account so I can find you, visit your domain of a website, and allow you to cast your creative magic of a spell all about me.

    Because I do…I really do…want to read your words or marvel at your photography and/or artwork in whatever form in which it may exist.

    I really really do.

    But, chances are pretty good that there is a pretty good chance I won’t be able to find you…

    Because, based upon my slightly more than casual observances, chances are pretty good that you haven’t fully…or even minimally…set up your gravatar profile.

    And that makes me sad.

    It makes me sad whenever I click on your profile to learn more about you and to ultimately visit your domain to like and to “Like” you, and when I get there I find, to my sad dismay, that you do not have your website linked there.

    What is a boy* to do?

    I mean, I could try doing a google search or try typing in your handle followed by .wordpress.com…

    And I have tried that on occasion…

    And on occasion it has worked.

    But let’s face it, mostly when I find myself at a gravatar profile that doesn’t, at a minimum, have a website linked to it…

    All I can do it back arrow my way back home, back to my domain…alone.

    And that’s pretty sad.


    So, to help keep me unsad, please please please go to gravatar.com, sign in with your WordPress.com account if you have one (and why wouldn’t you? all the cool people do…), create a new account if you don’t, and then set up your gravatar profile all proper-like so I can find you, and worship your creativity, and become happily unsad.

    And, I admit, there are quite a few steps involved in this process — so many that I am not even going to begin to list them all — so I can understand why so many of you Poets have accounts that lead me to No where…to No one…to your non-existence.

    But, I really believe that if you are serious about poeting seriously and getting your magic mojo in front of as many creative-seeking eyeballs as possibles, you really should invest the time and effort to set up a smoking hot gravatar profile.

    And even if you aren’t interested in doing all the work required to get your profile to the smokin’ hot level, then please please please, at minimum, at least, link your WordPress.com website to the profile. You can you at least, at a minimum, do that for me?

    Can’t you?


    Then, when I click on your gravatar image at the bottom of one of my posts I will find more than just your pretty gravatar face…

    I will find a link to your website…

    Thereby, I will find a link to you…

    And a way to validate your existence.


    Philosophical poetry…



    Here are a couple screenshots to give you an example of what’s involved in setting up your gravatar profile (click to enlarge)…


    Now, I don’t know if my gravatar profile is smoking’ hot or not but I do know I have done my darnedest to take advantage of all the Gravatar options possible to make it as tight and professional-looking as possible, and as easy as possible for you to find me…

    And by doing so, you, with your kindness and your favor, will validate my existence…

    And that truly makes me unsad.



    *non-gender specific



    • M-R 9:53 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Definitely mad. No doubt about it. [grin]

      Liked by 1 person

    • Laura L. 9:55 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      First of all, THIS: “For me, that is the number one way that I like go about finding new friends and collaborators…by visiting the domains of those who were kind enough to visit my domain and “Like” one of my posts.

      If you “Like”or comment on one of my posts or pages, I can guarantee there will come a day that I will want to return the kindness.”

      That’s what I do. It is also the reason I’m not following 10,482.7 blogs. If I follow, I read. If I read I’ll comment or at least like, at least more than 50% of the time. I’m pushing the max now.

      And…oh…crap. I have a Gravatar. Kept meaning to fill out the profile but did I? :::scampers off to look::::

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 10:00 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Well, I am sure glad I made the follow list (at least I hope I did). Glad to have you as a friend and collaborator, friend.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Laura L. 10:33 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          But of course. And after that amazing comment you left on my first story, I’ll be a fan grrrl forevah. (I’m so easy.) Thanks, for the Gravatar reminder. I did have one but I just spiffied it up a bit. I’m torn about putting an email addy there though. I have a bazillion gmail accounts (long story) so I suppose burning one wouldn’t be so bad but, ugh, spam and trolls. Any thoughts? I don’t need it on my blog for business purposes. It ain’t like anyone is going to hire me via the thing.


          • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 10:41 pm on November 3, 2014 Permalink | Reply

            Just put up a “Connect Page”..there is a “Add Contact Form” button in the edit box. People can still email you without having to divulge your address. The email address on my website is specifically for my writing so I don’t mind it being out there.

            Liked by 1 person

    • sanseilife 12:09 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Kurt thanks for the smile … Again!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Timothy Price 12:29 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Somehow my “about” from my blog got on my gravatar page, but I don’t remember putting it there. Your 1500+ entertaining words of entertainment are 1500+ reasons why I don’t bother with things like gravatars. If it picks up my about info all on it’s own, great. But adding websites, and show casing of my art, ways to connect and all that? Forget it — it’s way too much trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

    • creatyvebooks 1:00 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      So I read your post and I must say I think I confused the hell out of myself. I do have a Gravatar page but I don’t know if I did anything with it. Thanks for reminding me. Let’s see if I remember to update my profile. I forget all the time because of all the books that I’m reading. Anyways, thanks for the helpful tips.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 8:34 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Well, if there ever was a perfect excuse for forgetting to do just about anything, that would be yours, because of all the books you are reading. :)


    • herdthinner 1:14 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t realize we could do anything with the Gravatar page. Nor do I know why it has to be maintained separately from the WP pages, but maybe that’s for WP’s FAQ or something.

      But thanks for the reminder to look at it and see that, oh! I guess there are some things to do?

      I could have sworn I had a general blurb about my account, but did not. I actually have three blogs/sites because they serve different purposes. Each of their home pages have links to the others, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 8:32 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, good questions. I guess it might be separate so others who do not have a wp account can also create a gravatar account. Just a guess though.

        So if you want, you can also link your 3 sites to your gravatar profile…or any other sites as well. I have my fb and my amazon author’s page linked.


    • sweetpea2love 7:26 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Super post.. I’ve found you .. now your quest is to locate me?? I hope I’ve set up my Gravatar properly… Take care and happy blogging to ya.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lorna's Voice 8:35 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      “Less short version?” You are the master of understatement! ;) After reading all of that, I am still stuck on one thing you said–if I don’t exist in your world, I don’t exist–I’m dead to you. How can that be? I’m here, ready for discovery. I know what you mean, kind of. Well, maybe I don’t. Just because I don’t see the elephants plodding across the Savannah, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist…Maybe I need to have another cup of tea… ;)


    • DotedOn 9:00 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Here is a temporary proof that I exist :)
      I have no idea if my blog is linked on the gravatar page or not… I’ll check… Thank you :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Carla Doria M. 10:20 am on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Hi, since I’m following you now, I think I should exist in your community of followers now ;)
      Thanks for now following and now “existing” in my blog :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Teresa 4:47 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Well, I’m glad I have a gravatar, and I think it is linked properly, although it has been a while since I’ve tweaked it, so it could probably use an update. So, if your philosophy about the like button is correct and if other people also feel that way, then I guess I need to become a fan of the like button. I’ve used it some – mostly when I want to do a return visit to someone who has followed or liked my blog and I don’t want to follow, but I want to acknowledge that I am thankful for their visit. If I really like their blog and think that there is a modicum of a chance that I will read it occasionally, then I follow them. Unless they totally freak me out by the type of content they post, in which case I discreetly slip out the back door and only leave a like on their most positive post….of course, if they really creep me out, then I don’t even do that. I have noticed that some people, like yourself, will like comments as well, so I guess that is part of the deal? So, maybe I’ll rethink the whole like button issue as it may be more important than I had at first thought.
      While we are on the topic, sort of, how do you feel about people who follow you just hoping that you will follow them back and you know they never read your post? Especially, when you have barely hit the publish button and you receive a notification that they have liked or followed your blog. You know they haven’t had time to read the post, even if they are a speed reader. That bother’s me a little because, although I want as many followers as possible – don’t we all? – I really want them to read my stuff. I mean, not obsessively, but come on, if you follow me, shouldn’t it be because something I said resonated with you and you think you might enjoy reading once in a while?
      Ok off the soap box now. I’m going to go and like this post, so that you can find me if you want to. Oh, and if you want to follow, but I’m not really your cup of tea, just forget all that mumbo, jumbo I said, and feel free to follow ;) Oh wait…. you are following me! Yea! He likes me! :) You always have good tips and I like the way you wind them with your humor that makes me read with bated breath waiting for you to get to the point. Ok, I’m really going to shut up now – I’m in a really weird mood today….

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 7:44 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Ha ha…wow. This comment of yours looks like one of my stream of consciousness posts…but much more awesomer. As far as the “Likes,” I say go with whatever works for you. It seems that I’m pretty much opposite of you, though. I will follow just about anyone but I am a bit more selective on what posts I “Like.” But to be honest, I don’t really put too much thought into it. I just want to find and follow people who are interesting and who dare to be different and are able to do it in such a way that takes me by surprise from time to time…Not asking for that much, am I. :)

        I really appreciate your kind comments, Teresa, and I am very happy and proud to be a follower of yours.

        Liked by 1 person

    • jimplex 6:15 pm on November 4, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I had no idea I had to do anything else to link my gravitar to my WordPress (and the graphic I’m seeing to the left of what I’m writing makes me feel I still didn’t get it right!) Thanks for the info–I’m going back into the breach now to see if I can fix it!

      Liked by 1 person

    • creekrose 9:35 am on December 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      you are funny! thank you for a morning chuckle :)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jann @ AustinDetails.me 8:34 am on January 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      (And don’t even get me started on the inadequacies of the infantile WP reader.) You had me at “If I Can’t Find You.” But your beyond-clever graphics sealed the deal.

      Marketing 101 is beyond many creative souls, and sigh, I’ve tried to help, encourage and model it for years. So too bad for them, makes more room for those of us who do get it. Not that we still don’t try (fruitlessly) to persuade them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley 10:38 am on January 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        Sounds like there is a Relating to Humans article with a possible follow-on guest post in there somewhere. :) My “pro” tip articles go through an alchemic transformation of sort as they usually begin as a frustration and end a cathartic release. But of course you understand that. Thank you for your kind and humorous comment, Jann. I truly appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

  • Kurt Brindley 7:21 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , writers,   

    Literary Zen V 


  • Kurt Brindley 7:07 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Japanese Literature, Kenji Miyazawa, , , , , writers   

    He Ain't No Oe But That Ain't So Bad 

    by Haruki Murakami

    RATING: ★ ★ ★

    Original review date: May 17, 2011

    Haruki Murakami

    Haruki Murakami

    Nobel Prize winning author Kenzaburo Oe is one of the few contemporary Japanese authors whose writing does what I believe Japanese literature — strike that — whose writing does what I believe all literature should do: that is, it should expose our fears and force us to confront them. Like a shamanistic bloodletting, literature should mercifully, but without mercy, cut deep into our consciousness in an effort to reveal and release, exorcise, the things in life that have come to possess us—-our loves, our hates, our envies, our disdains; and afterwards, when the demons are either gone or have regained control, after the blood stops flowing and the wound hardens into a gnawing, itchy scab, it, literature, then forever stays with us and occasionally reminds us of that which we have, if not overcome, then at least managed to suffer through, as the thickened scar forever reminds the wary survivor.

    Yes, I expect much from literature.

    Oe’s writing affects me as literature should. Though it has been many years since I have read his novels The Silent Cry and A Personal Matter, they both are still with me, haunting me.

    While I have read far too few Japanese authors, it is impossible for me not to compare the writing of those authors whom I have read against Oe’s, since his is such a powerful force in my literary life.

    It’s difficult, maybe impossible, to compare the writing of authors of different literary genres and subgenres. How does one effectively size up an Oe novel against a Basho haiku against a Miyazawa fairy tale?

    Acknowledging such difficulties, I know we still like our “best of” lists so here is a somewhat rankish list of those few Japanese authors whom I have read, ordered based on the subjective impact their writings have left on me, on how deeply they cut into my consciousness, on how thick the scar they leave behind.

    Kenzaburo Oe
    Yukio Mishima
    Matsuo Basho
    Ryunosuke Akutagawa
    Soseki Natsume
    Yasunari Kawabata
    Kenji Miyazawa
    Haruki Murakami
    Banana Yoshimoto

    I love poetry and I consider myself a poet, but as a reader I am drawn mostly to the novel. So it’s no surprise to me that the list consists of those authors known primarily for their novels. Most of the authors are dead, but the three who are still with us bookend the list: Oe on top and Yoshimoto and Murakami at the bottom.

    Though his name is listed next to last on the list — which doesn’t necessarily mean his writing is bad (although I do believe Yoshimoto is properly placed at the bottom as she is a less than good writer, especially when compared to Oe) — when discussing contemporary Japanese novelists, the first on the list to be discussed, even before Oe, at least in terms of international popularity and readership, is Haruki Murikami.

    These days, Murakami’s work dominates Japan’s literary scene, and much of the international one, as well. From what I’ve learned about his work ethic his is a completely earned and deserved domination — when working on a novel he rises at 4:00am, writes for five to six hours, runs 10 kilometers, and is in bed by 9:00 pm; he rigidly sticks to this herculean writing process and daily routine until the novel is complete.

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my first Murakami novel. In addition to the short story Town of Cats it is the only work of his I have read.

    I like THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE. I think it deserves to be as widely read as it has been. It is an intriguingly complex story with many layers, possessing much of what I like most about Japanese writing, and which, fortunately for me, is what most of what the Japanese writing that I have read is about: the sense of loneliness and despondency in the face of an ever more changing and complex world.

    But it seems THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is a bit too complex an effort with too many layers for Murakami to effectively manage.

    The protagonist of the story, our non-hero, is Toru Okada, a still young but nearing middle age out of work lawyer. He is out of work by his own choosing, apparently because he has become disenchanted with his line of employment and his place in life. First he loses his cat, then his wife. During his quest for both, he finds and develops a relationship with a flirty teenager, with two sisters (one a prostitute of the mind whom he encounters in both his real and dreamed worlds, the other a prostitute of the flesh), a rich widow and her mute but spiritually communicative son, and a World War II veteran with a fantastically horrific yet achingly beautiful story to tell. To manage his downwardly spiraling and dangerously out-of-control and confusing life, Toru takes refuge within a deep well, which seems to be some sort of all consuming event horizon between his reality and his dreams.

    Yeah, it’s as wild and mesmerizing and frustrating (often not in a good way) ride of a novel as it sounds.

    My two biggest criticisms of Murakami’s novel are that it is too contrived and too insecure.

    I know much of the story is fantastical and captured within a dream state, but it doesn’t feel natural. No matter how bizarre and far out crazy weird a story is it should still feel natural, as if that is exactly how life is meant to be. Some of my favorite novels are captured firmly within these realms; particularly Franz Kafka’s The Castle and The Trail.

    We know that Murakami was greatly influenced by Kafka. So much so he entitles of one of his books Kafka on the Shore. But no matter how fantastical and surreal Kafka gets, his writing feels natural within those unnatural realms. Murakami’s does not. His feels choppy, forced, and, as I said before, contrived.

    I also get impatient with Murakami’s lack of trust in us, the readers. This lack of trust may mean he is somewhat insecure in his own writing ability. He explains things too much. He leads us throughout the story with too much detail and suggestions as to the meaning behind what it is he wishes for us to learn from his words. Unlike Kafka who takes us blindfolded onto his bizarre journeys, abandones us deep within the remote wilderness of his unfinished tales, and leaves us to our own devices to find our way back to safety, Murakami has no such confidence in either us, himself, or both.

    Maybe it’s overly descriptive because unconsciously he understood that the story was too ambitious and unmanageable for him to successfully convey.

    Regardless what my criticisms are, THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE is an immense success. As testimony to its international appeal, an “interdisciplinary theatre production” based upon the novel premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Its trailer looks amazing and captures the essence and weirdness of the story.

    In the end, Murakami’s THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE does not do for me what Oe’s The Silent Cry or A Personal Matter does. While it is surreal and sometimes dark and creepy in a soulful and insightful way that I mostly enjoyed, it has no staying power. If there has been any cutting from it, it has been bloodless and superficial. Ten years from now, I foresee the novel leaving no haunting or even memorable scars on my consciousness.


    Rating System:
    ★ = Unreadable
    ★ ★ = Poor Read
    ★ ★ ★ = Average Read
    ★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Read
    ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Read
    • PaulXylinides, May the mermaids sing to you ... 7:34 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      I fully agree with you about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It feels to me that there is less there than meets the eye. I am in the process of finishing it with a very unsatisfied feeling, At times, there are nice literary touches but there is something interminable and low-keyed about it, searching for meaning without finding it, and structurally it at times jumps without apparent reason between thoroughly different episodes. Norwegian Wood affected me in the same manner although I liked the first few pages. He is receiving criticism and, I personally, don’t understand the huge popularity. This will be the last of his that I read. By the way, I recommend Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji that you may very well know. This she wrote because she found her society so fascinating that she wished to preserve its memory for future generations. This first known novel in the world has received critical attention second only to Shakespeare.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 9:18 pm on October 27, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Yeah, great assessment, Paul. I still intend to read more of his work. But there are so many books I want to read he’s not a priority.

        We name our pets after writers. My last dog, my best friend in the whole world and who was by my side every second when I was going through all my cancer junk, was named Murasaki Shikibu.

        Thanks for the great commentary, as usual, Paul.


    • pixie 1:50 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you – I’ve never read Oe but I take your word that he is one of the greats. I’ll try to pick up a title.
      Norwegian Wood was my first. The lasting impression was, “Wow. That was a lot of sex.” I’m not sure it was all necessary, but to an inexperienced teenager it was a feast of the imagination.
      Murakami writes isolation well, and depicts the Japanese diaspora of loneliness and conformity with the hand of a skilled artist. I agree with your analysis of Wind-up Bird. It was psychedelic and entertaining but it was absolutely all over the place. I recall disagreeing with the Manchuria hallucinations as it was too much war glorification. While the novel is fiction and fantastical, I was hoping for a fair depiction of history when the scarce parts of the novel presented itself as such.
      Murakami did manage to tie everything together at the end, or at least give loose ends somewhat of a closure. I’m equally in awe of his discipline. Not every man can be as prolific as he is while running marathons as if it’s the most natural past-time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 9:48 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

        Wow, love your insight. I sure hope you are writing reviews (will def check your site to find out (: ) Oe, himself, is very disciplined. He lives an almost ascetic, monk-like literary existence where he imposes a 5-year in-depth study requirement on himself. He chooses a certain genre or subject and digs into very deep for 5 years, and then he’ll pick something else…very interesting and a bit strange, which is how I like my authors. :) I appreciate you stopping by and leaving such an interesting and astute comment, pixie.

        Liked by 1 person

        • pixie 11:19 am on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

          Thank you Kurt – you started this whole conversation with your in-depth analysis! I wonder if it’s a cultural phenomenon, this discipline that is common among Japanese writers, or its people generally. I’m thinking sushi chefs bordering on OCD, Kabuki dancers who hone their art to perfection, or even the cashier at the 100 Yen gift store who wrapped my tiny present with such precision and meticulosity that it might as well have come from the highest-end luxury department store. 5 years is a long time to spend contemplating something, in our world of instant gratification. I look forward to what Oe has to say.
          I have a couple of reviews on books, and I also write a whole other type of review – on consumer experiences at spas. If you do stop by, I’d love to hear what you think.
          Thanks for the concientious overview!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Kurt Brindley ✍ ✄ ✍ 3:01 pm on November 11, 2014 Permalink | Reply

            Yeah, the Japanese have always excelled in the art of craftsmanship and refinement. Unfortunately, they are losing a lot of that spirit these days. Sounds good, pixie. I’ll def stop by and check them out. Thanks, my friend.


  • Kurt Brindley 6:44 pm on October 24, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , merch store, , , slogans, tee shirts, writers,   








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