Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld

"From the great heaven she set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven the goddess set her mind on the great below. From the great heaven Inanna set her mind on the great below. My mistress abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended to the underworld. Inanna abandoned heaven, abandoned earth, and descended …

A Writer’s Reach

Slowly getting my ducks lined in a row and will start the new novel soon. I'm looking forward to it. The original idea has stayed with me for some time now so I think it has merit. I've had ideas come and go before, and you come to recognize this as a writer. Not all …

Rules are made to be broken, except when they’re not.

As a writer, the only time you should break the rules is when you know the rules beforehand. Fortunately, in writing, there are no rules. Which is why you must be extra careful before you go around breaking them and drawing attention to yourself. I know. Sounds screwy and somewhat zen-like. But there's a lot …

Fishing the Styx: Moby-Dick and Dante’s Inferno, with horror and revenge served cold in Hell….

As a writer I like all my stories. I would not submit them for publication if I felt they had nothing to give readers. But I have to admit there are some stories that are very important to me for one reason or another. "Fishing the Styx" is such a story. I have always loved …

The Saga of Ragnar Greenkirtle and the “graskinna” Loki

One of the things I like about being a writer is how I can do research about topics that interest me and use that information to generate story ideas. I have always been interested in Viking culture and when I read the Sagas I was taken with the voice used to tell their stories. Being …

Reading Outside Your Genre Even if it Kills You

There are lots of ways to get better at writing. Sitting down and writing more is one of the more obvious. Another helpful way is to read a lot, and read often. That is also obvious. If you write science fiction you should read a lot of science fiction. If you write romance you should …

What I learned from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, and why it scared me.

I remember the very first time I came face to face with how much creativity would be needed if I was going to be a writer. I was in a high school English class and we had finished reading The Old Man and the Sea. In one passage the fisherman comes back to his hut …

Ideas are a dime a dozen. But stories are forever.

I remember when I began to get serious about writing. I was in my early twenties. One of the things that really worried me is would I have enough ideas for stories? It worried me. At the time it only seemed I had one or two ideas worth developing. It didn't look good for the …

The Smoke and Mirrors Effect in Writing

Writing, good writing, is all about smoke and mirrors. You've heard the old saw Truth is stranger than fiction. It's also unpublishable as fiction. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood notwithstanding, trying to write pure fact as pure fiction is darn near impossible. Even for all of Capote's talent and genius he knew enough not to …

Little Big Man: A Classic Novel of Lies and Counter-Lies in the Old West

My review of the novel Little Big Man by Thomas Berger has been published by The Western Online. Here's the link, and I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say about this classic work. I tried to approach the review from the orientation of both an armchair historian and a writer working in …

Les Miserables: “Hunger comes with love.”

I finished reading Les Miserables by Victor Hugo for the second time some years back.  The first time I read it was in high school.  I liked it then, I love it now, even after all this time. I guess everyone knows about Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread and being pursued by Javert.  …

Alcaeus of Lesbos and War Imagery

My favorite Greek poems by Alcaeus of Lesbos, which I bring you forthwith: The great hall is aglare with bronze armament and the whole inside made fit for war with helms glittering and hung high, crested over with white horse- manes that nod and wave and make splendid the heads of men who wear them.  …

Pride and Prejudice: If People Were Ants We Wouldn’t Need Stories

About three years ago I read the first 100 pages of Pride and Prejudice and then I bailed. I was taking some very heavy damage from several hardened missile silos down below me. I had lost all aileron control and the self-sealing fuel tanks, well, were no longer self-sealing. I had to eject fast or …

The Last Pale Light in the West — Music by Ben Nichols Inspired by Blood Meridian

Ben Nichols, frontman for the Texas country/punk band Lucero, released a solo acoustic album The Last Pale Light in the West in 2009.  It is an incredible work. It's a short album of 7 songs based on Cormac McCarthy's novel Blood Meridian. Each song follows a particular character from the book. The last song "The Judge" …

Endings Are Hard, Except When They’re Easy

Writing is hard enough. Everything about is is hard. Except thinking up new ideas. That's actually easy. People who don't write sometimes think the idea phase is difficult. Nope. That's easy. I have way more ideas than I will ever write. The trick is choosing the best idea among them and elaborating on it. Part …

Tangled – Animated Hair Fetish by Disney (movie review)

The story of Rapunzel is one of my favorite Grimms' fairy tale. The original story and many of its variations are quite dark. In the original story the prince calls for Rapunzel to let down her hair and sees her on the sly. One day she lets slip that her dress is getting too tight …

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy — a Review

“You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow.” --Blood Meridian Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West might be one of the top five novels of Modern American literature. I say "might be" because it is probably too soon to make that …