Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Memorable Date For Me Marks A Remarkable Review for Midshipman David Porter

Was most happy to receive this 'gift' on my birthday, Nov. 16, in the form of a book review written by Marie Vernon, which appeared in the Living section of the St. Augustine Record, daily newspaper.
Although  Midshipman Porter did not call into St. Augustine, the oldest city in the new world was on the front lines of every conflict in its centuries old history. It has known the footsteps of conquerors, conquistadors, pirates, privateers, buccaneers in the era of sail - and is still in the combat zone for cyber hackers, smugglers of dope, contraband and illegal immigrates of many nationalities - friend and foe.
These are early days in the young adventurer's career, but the dastardly practices performed by evil scoundrels were  ancient before man set out to explore the seas and conquer the world. Book two in the saga in on the slips, fitting out  and eager to be launched. It bears many similarities to current events, despite the passage of time.

Cruelty and greed have no expiration date. But hopefully bravery and heroism will keep it in check.



Book review "Midshipman Porter: In Harm's Way"

Q&A with Jack Owen

Posted: November 16, 2014 - 12:08am

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sea Spectres Live On in 'The Jekyll Island Enigma'

Please accept this gift - can be read during the hall-time show - as a teaser to tempt you to read the full, expurgated story...later.

Except from 'The Jekyll Island Enigma' by Jack Owen
(gift-read between plays)
Bremen Departs

Konig wrinkled his nose at the acrid smell of burning oil and cordite filtering into the grimy, camouflaged car as it approached Lorient.
This is worse than my cigar, eh ?” he rubbed sleep from his eyes, peering at shipyards smoldering from another English bombing raid. Dockyard workers ignored the car bumpily edging through their midst. German uniforms and military vehicles were a common sight to battered and bewildered Frenchmen following the country’s defeat in June, 1940.
Konig glanced back toward the other passenger, Gerhardt Muni, perched on the back seat with him. He braced himself when the car swayed to skirt bomb craters which had turned the road into a perilous patchwork of holes.
Muni merely nodded and shrugged, following an established pattern to Konig’s friendly conversational attempts. Muni only voluntarily spoke once during the long drive, to protest when Konig lit up a cigar.
Is that necessary ?” Muni asked petulantly, winding down his window. The draft disturbed his carefully coifed flaxen hair, depositing dust motes, which he fastidiously flicked off the surface of an immaculately pressed new navy uniform.
Yes.” Konig said curtly. “When you have spent most of the war under water, breathing in the stench of hot machinery and unwashed bodies, you seize every opportunity to enjoy the little comforts life has to offer.”
Muni coughed delicately into a fresh linen handkerchief extracted, like a magician, from the sleeve of his uniform jacket. “That may be, but put it out,” he ordered.
Konig’s eyes narrowed briefly and a slight tremor flecked his cheek. He drew a deep breath, slowly shaking his head before he exhaled and tapped the single gold stripe on Muni’s arm before glancing down at the two gold rings of command on his own sleeve.
I suggest you read up on Naval insignia, and rank, if you’re going to wear the uniform,” Konig said softly.
Muni’s mouth opened to reply before he saw Konig’s lopsided smile was not reflected in his dark eyes. Muni clamped his mouth shut and shifted to the far end of the seat. Konig took advantage of the hours of chilled silence to doze, not waking until they reached Lorient.
In the distance Konig saw the mouth of a tunnel leading to the protected submarine pens, beyond the gauntlet of civilian road laborers and dockyard workers.
One of the French workers casually glanced up from his mundane task of sizing cobblestones at the curb-edge, closely observing the car’s occupants when it swept past. He noted their uniforms and rank, turning his head slowly to follow the direction of Konig’s pointed finger.
The submariner was oblivious to the workman’s curiosity.
His attention was riveted by the sight of three sea-going tugs maneuvering a badly shelled half-submerged U-boat, into a fortified basin containing several other battered Boots.
Mein Gott, look at that!” Konig cried.
You won’t find what you’re looking for there Captain.”
Muni spoke up from his corner, carefully straightening his double-breasted jacket to fasten the buttons.
I think I can recognize my own boot, Leutnant, even in that scrapheap. I can’t imagine what dumpkoff left those boots out in the open like sitting ducks for air-attack.”
Konig spun around to face Muni who was busy adjusting his high-peaked cap at a jaunty angle. “You can forget your mission now, I think.”
I think not Captain. What you are looking for is not there.” Muni responded haughtily, adding smugly, “Admiral Canaris will no doubt be amused at your description of him. He ordered the pens emptied for my mission.”
That wreck is my boat!” Konig, ignoring the comment, thrust a leather-gloved finger at the submarine being supported, pushed and towed by the tugs.
Your command is in the bunker, safe beneath 15-feet of reinforced concrete and steel.” Muni curled back his lip in a smiling sneer at the puzzled look on Konig’s face. “You’ll see.”
Konig clenched his fist so tightly his knuckles threatened to burst out of his gloves. Muni represented the power and authority of a man held in high esteem by Der Fuhrer, and Konig obeyed orders. But that did not mean he liked it.
The French workman’s eyes followed the car’s progress until it reached the tunnel entrance, while his hands automatically maintained their mechanical task. Beneath the shabbily dressed, unshaven man, a mind schooled in the minutia of espionage logged the non-incident to memory for his next intelligence report to England, along with the damage caused by the air-raid, and number of trucks entering Lorient’s marine arsenal.
Artificial light emphasized the strained lines etched on Konig’s face when the car entered the tunnel. If the wreckage of U-122 was not his to command, he wondered which of the Type IXD Class boats he had been assigned to.
While his brain engaged in matching captains to supply boats, his eyes narrowed at the sight of the submarine which filled his view. It looked like a steel anachronism from his youth: a dull-gray fat cigar-shaped hull with a plumb bow, canoe-stern, and an open catwalk raised along the length of its upper deck.

                      Deutschlander, sister-ship to lost Bremen, unloading in New London, Connecticut,1916

Wh-what in God’s name...?” He muttered.
Your new command, the late Great War blockade runner Bremen.” Muni indicated with a disdainful hand gesture.
Konig stared, mouth compressed into a thin tight line, at the ghost of the legendary merchant submarine Bremen. He vaguely recalled her reported disappearance with all hands shortly after sailing from Germany in the summer of 1916.
When Konig stepped out of the car the spectral ancient hull solidly blocked his horizon.
He turned to face Muni, dozens of questions poised to pour out in a torrent.
Not now Captain, please. Your crew and command await.”
Muni waved his hand imperially.
Konig squinted against the lights illuminating the cavernous submarine pens so they were brighter than a sunlit day. The uniformed men assembled along the dock were his own crew. He swallowed hard, bracing his shoulders and stepped forward to greet his First-Lieutenant, Oberleutnant zur See Walter Cremer.
Several hours later, after the formalities and inspection of crew and boat were completed, Konig sat in the small wardroom with his second in command, and Muni. A bottle of schnapps miraculously appeared on the small table, with three squat stainless-steel thumb-sized tumblers.
Konig poured with a steady hand while he directed questions at Muni. “Why was I not warned about this tub? Didn’t think I’d take it, eh ?”
You would have been shot if you had refused. You knew too much. Danke!” Muni matter of factly answered. He grasped his tumbler, raising it in silent salute and downed its contents in one gulp.
The others followed his lead.
Konig refilled the glasses before firing off his next round of questions. “Where in the world did she come from ?”
He looked about the cramped cabin with its stark furnishings. Pipes and valves jammed overhead and along the inner hull.
Her maiden voyage through the British blockade was almost her last trip, “Muni said. “When she approached New York harbor on the surface she was spotted by a squadron of American frigates. They refused to accept her as a legitimate Merchant vessel. Bremen’s commander submerged to escape capture, but was depth-charged. He managed to escape by leaving a decoy of oil and personal items - including a lifering with Bremen’s name on it - to fool the Americans.”
Muni spun his tale in a bored, monosyllabic tone to the two submariners straining forward to listen.
Once Bremen was far enough out in the North Atlantic, off the convoy routes and away from enemy patrols, she re- surfaced and made a run for Spain, a less aggressive ‘neutral’ country. Bremen was presumed lost at sea, and Naval Intelligence used her loss to enlist the sympathy of pro- German factions in America. Protests against the brutal and ‘cowardly’ sinking of the unarmed Merchant submarine proved to be a better propaganda weapon than her survival.” Muni shrugged, holding his tumbler out again.
Konig hesitated before pouring again. “Her survival could have been embarrassing to the High Command, I suppose. So Bremen remained hidden from sight in Spain for two decades and no one said anything ?”
It took a bit of persuasion, and a lot of palm-oil to keep it quiet.” Muni stroked one hand across the palm of the other.
And the crew ?” Cremer, the pudgy, older First Officer, asked.
They had a long holiday in German East Africa patrolling Lake Victoria on an armed steamer. Until a maniac Englishman sunk them with a home-made bomb mounted on the bow of his piddling little boat, the ‘African Queen’. He, and the English slut with him, perished in the explosion.” Muni smiled with satisfaction. His death’s-head insignia signet ring rattled against his tumbler impatiently.
Konig glanced briefly at Cremer, involuntarily shuddering at the fate of the Bremen’s crew, before pouring another round of schnapps.
During the next 48-hours Konig absorbed every facet of the ancient submarine he could. It was a weird experience to tour a boat presumed ‘dead’ for 25 years. He felt as though he had suddenly been given command of a salvaged ‘Titanic’.

Teaser Ends..

Available in paperback or Kindle - you know where...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

First Time Television Apparance - A Classic Event with Joan Rivers

Sad to hear about the passing of Joan Rivers, a pro who still performed, beyond her prime.
The clips below are TV-stills taken from 'The Joan Rivers Show', recorded in New York, November 16 (my birthday), 1992, which launched my book "Palm Beach Scandals - The First 100 Years". I was flown up there along with Count Jean De La Moussaye, ex-boyfriend of Roxanne Pulitzer, for a show focused on SCANDAL.
It was a classic.

During it, Joan got into a hissy-fit with Jessica Hahn [Google it] - off-set via satellite in California(?), which ended with Joan's riposte: "Well, at least I don't have to wear knee-pads to get invited to parties."
Fade-out, panic behind the scenes, hilarity amongst the audience and tears in California, according to eye-witness and next guest; Zsa Zsa Gabor.

A launch I'll never forget!
RIP Joan, a true showbiz trooper.

[pics clipped from tape of Joan River's Show - forwarded to me later]

Friday, May 9, 2014

A stone in the pond

 Far Flung Consequences

 Just heard about the death of Canadian writer Farley Mowat, at 95.
I'm amazed he lasted so long at the rate he expended energy and intensity, from conservation of the environment to resuscitating boats beyond their sell-by date.

 Back in the mid-70's during that Watergate summer, I was on the west-coast weekending in Seattle while working on a Post-Intelligencer Sunday magazine story [African Queen in Oregon - I think] and was weathered in a a girl's parents house (don't ask). That is one rainy city.  Found a book with the intriguing title 'The Boat Who Wouldn't Float', inhaled it and wrote Mowat's publisher pal Jack Stewart of McClellend & Stewart - THE Canadian Publishers - querying a coffee-table art book based on Canadian maritime artist Jack L. Gray.
Lot of Jacks here, eh.
I'd met Jack Gray living aboard 'Gypsy Queen' in Palm Beach Marina one season when he was gargling Liebfraumilch by the crate, between trying to finish oil paintings of an East Ironbound dory-man sculling and hauling cod, to be viewed by the caviar-set at The Worth Avenue Gallery .
One sure way to determine if a painting at a gallery-opening was a genuine Jack Gray - just touch it.
That led to my first book-contract, a drive across Canada via the TransCan Highway from Seattle to Lunenburg, months of work, followed by midnight-oil writing/assembling, followed by second wifey's demand for bigger slice of royalty, followed by deep-six of project by publisher.
So, yes, Farley Mowat had more of an impact on me than the average author !
RIP, indeed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Combined Talents:

      When One + One = ONE

The pen-name of writers Judy Habeck Weber and Marie Vernon who combined forces to produce a whodunnit written by Amber Adams, was a pragmatic inspiration.

It stemmed from the reality of the alphabetical fiction listings by-author in all genres at most book-shops. Their target readership, “women of a certain age” will not, and some cannot, get down on hands and knees to scour for books on the bottom shelf.

Judy Weber explains how she and co-author Marie Vernon keep from killing each other –
to a roomful of 'Sisters in Crime' Florida'

A little background. 
Judy had a New York career in Ad-space-sales during the era of liquid lunches and reality 'Mad Men' in Manhattan's Madison Avenue heyday. She later edited and wrote for a building trades magazine, based in the fast-growing South Florida real-estate boom, before retiring onto a boat at a marina with her hubby. That's when she considered testing the fictional waters, joined FWA (Florida Writer's Association), won writing awards, became a judge then Queen of England...( carried away).
Marie's writing career began as a freelancer with feature-stories in national newspapers Her non-fiction books included colonial history of Maryland; then hard-crime tomes co-authored with her late husband forensic psychologist McCay (Mac) Vernon, about serial killers. Her fascinating with an extreme fan of Elvis Presley, and that ilk, lead to the fictional book Graceland. It is currently being adapted as a stage play.
So, not novices, but neophytes in the roles they have grown into.And this is how they did it – without becoming victims in a murder mystery
Amber Adams' creation Day McKelvey, a lady of a certain age, is a newspaper reporter investigation the death of a university president who's body is found at the foot of the 'World's Tallest Cross' (208 feet high) at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche, St. Augustine. The prime suspect is a student she mentored.
Marie's strength is her ''stick-to-intuitiveness' attitude, which has carried her through six published books; but she is liable to fall in love with words. 
Judy helps keep the storyline on track. 
An example from the Book Two in the series they are working on; one of the subject/suspects Day McKelvey interviews, has a parrot. Marie was totally taken with the pretty polly on a perch who didn't just speak but, was bi-lingual. Wonderful. But editor-writer Judy gave that colorful distraction, the bird. He was terminated. The story-line moved forward toward its objective, bringing a killer to justice.
Judy says she appreciates the eloquence of Shakespearean verse and soliloquys such as Hamlet's “To be, or not to be”. But prefers to stick with the 'nuts and bolts' of constructing stories which will stand up to scrutiny.Her point of view is, flowery decoration is the icing on the cake. 
Marie confessed: “If the house was on fire, the first thing I'd save would be the thesaurus.”
They barely knew each other when, by some alchemy following a meeting at FWA they began discussing a joint venture. They don't live close enough for garden-fence gossip, but the convenience of social media via email,eliminates a lot of travel. And bloodshed.
“We've learned to read between the lines of our messages. If either one of us uses extremely diplomatic wordage to accept a version the other has written, its pretty sure they think its terrible,” Judy said.
Separation when either reads a new draft, eliminates spontaneous outbursts like: “Oh no,” and “I hate that idea. That's really dumb.”
They agreed on the timeline and storyline, the foundation of the book during initial kneecap to kneecap sessions, then submitted progressions for consideration, work-over, rewrite,inclusion. 
“You have to lose your ego, to co-operate,” Judy said. Their different personalities, work habits, strengths, weaknesses, had to adjust to compliment each other without losing sight of their final target, the reader.
When Judy first attended writer groups and submitted manuscripts for feedback and criticism, it was an uncomfortable period of adjustment.
“Every word was my baby. I had to realize there were alternatives, some of which improved the writing and story. We will respond, respectably,” she glanced at a smiling Marie, “to each others suggestions.”
Then added.
“Of course. That was Vol. 1. Who knows who's going to say 'idiot' first, in Vol. 2 ?”


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

 The Would-be Life of a Touring Blogger. Another Opportunity -  Lost ?

  I do admire the outpouring of writers who also blog, on a regular basis. And the promise of eager new readers just itching to snatch up the latest morsels before flipping over to the 'Buy NOW' button on whatever this week's social networking device is, to purchase my book.
Those were the starry-eyed promises I momentarily considered before I accepted the kind invitation of an anonymous ex-Pat, ex-Navy, ex-Editor to join him aboard the Bloggers Express to fame and fortune.
Unfortunately the scheme ran out of steam before it could include us aboard to reach our destination.
Like - that's never happened before!
Sometimes we live and learn - and sometimes we should be  satisfied to just keep on living.
The premise was a selected group of writers would be asked to respond to the same four questions; following a brief biography.
As dear old Winnie was wont to say: "Sorry, I did not have time to write a short letter."
Time taken from writing is begrudged.
However, the work was done and no writer likes to waste words so, this may serve a purpose in bringing you up to date on my past and current activities.
[Only the names have been XXX'd out to protect the identity of the innocent.]

Thumbnail bio & Pic:
British Journalist Jack Owen's UK news beat included Broadmoor Institute for the Criminally Insane, and Sandhurst Military Academy. Those extremes provided many Stop Press stories for Fleet Street newspapers. Later, as a crime reporter in the USA, his years spent upstairs and downstairs in the Palm Beaches, Florida, led to publication of Palm Beach Scandals - An Intimate Guide. It debuted on the Joan Rivers Show and was featured at the ABA (American Booksellers Association) Miami convention.
Owen has also dealt in antiquarian book sales, piddled around in boats and partnered in a catering company for the social set.
Thanks to XXX XXXXXX's savvy as a social network maven who urged me aboard...rather like being Press-ganged ;^}

What am I working on?
Currently roughing out the first draft of Book II in the David Porter saga - only five more to go.
America's Porter, a child of the 1776 Revolution, hero of the War of 1812, a pirate killer who rid the Caribbean of their ilk from his newly-created Key West base, He adopted the boy David Glasgow Farragut of “Damn the torpedoes – Full Steam Ahead!” fame. Porter has been my pet project for decades.
As a born-again procrastinator, it recently became apparent my library of Porter'iana and related characters, fascinating as it is, will not transform itself into the seven books I envisaged. Every few years a new, Non-Fiction, version of Porter will emerge. C.S. Forester even based one of his books on some of Porter's exploits, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
But Porter has more hutzpah than Hornblower and is quite a bit hornier. Porter did not got the good press of John Paul Jones. He's certainly colorful enough for today's tabloids. He was impressed as a youth by the Royal Navy, and escaped. He was charged with murder in Baltimore and acquitted, He was imprisoned by Barbary pirates and freed (during the USMC's first covert wartime overseas operation, on the shores of Tripoli. He was fired following a courts martial, reinstated, quit, then was pursued by assassins hired by Mexicans upset at the way he handled their war. As US Consul in Constantinople, Porter anticipated the political tsunami which lead to the Crimea War.
Quite a lad!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Its less formulaic and predictable, just like life which is stranger than fiction, than most market-driven books.
I inhaled the entertainments of Forester, Reeman, and Stockwin. Montserrat and Shute, Christie and Fleming, Wodehouse and Wylie. But eventually I overdosed on those favorite authors. A voyage too far, a clue too cute and a quip too slick.
It seems forever-ago now, but Truman Capote's In Cold Blood upended the true-crime genre of magazines and books, once consumed by cops and reporters alike. His fictionalization of the facts which everybody knew, was spellbinding. A darn good read. (I'd love to read the villains impressions of him.)
Millions of words have been printed about Porter. Monuments, streets, towns bear his name. His wide-spread family tree could create a cottage-industry based on his name and namesakes. (One member of a writer's feedback group I'm in, is a great-great-etc granddaughter of Porter. She tends to refers to his fighting frigates as, 'the family yachts'.)
Because he was a hot-head and un-PC, long before that term was in vogue. Because he was unpredictable, both a hero and a villain in the same breath, and because of his contrary traits, he will continue to be a source of many stories to come.

Why do I write what I do?
I write what I want to read. If what I write for pleasure finds fellow-travelers – Bingo!
The difference between being a staff-writer for a newspaper, or subject-specific freelance-writer, means following a format dictated by a general-interest readership or focus on one subject. The combination of having a short attention-span and an inquiring mind served me well in both fields. Empty pages between the advertisements, require interesting and entertaining prose to draw readers eyes through the gamut of peripheral temptations.
If there were no news stories or titillating features, whatever could one do to prevent all those advertisements bumping into each other?
Being rewarded for sustaining a book-length story, with no guarantees of sales in sight, is an act of faith in ones own abilities to achieve a goal.
The standard answer mountaineers give to people who ask why is. “Because its there.”  Apply that reply to writer's, too.
Completing a book is satisfying and perhaps, a challenge to others to try as well

How does my writing process work?
Living beyond my means is a great motivator.
I spent a lifetime working against deadlines 24/7. Breaking news does not respect a time-clock And editors do not forget missed deadlines. My mantra to all wannabes is:You can't Edit an Empty Page.
One of these days I'll turn it into a Tee-Shirt!
I tend to overload on information, absorbing every morsel into all pores. Time and space will determine story size. But, while mindfully pruning material to fit,  that spiked copy emerges by some sort of osmosis, onto the page. A reader will instinctively know when a story is padded with extra prose.
One day, just for giggles, line up the same story snipped a daily broadsheet (if there are any left), a weekly newspaper, and the supermarket tabloid rack. The basics are there – and so are those phantom facts slashed by the editorial red pen.
I know, you know, what I know ;^)

Monday, April 7, 2014

How To Turn Readers into Writers - A Talk for Wannabes

 All you accomplished authors can ignore this listing. It just outlines a few tips picked up during the past half-century - or so - from being in the business of writing for a living.
On the other hand, if you've ever thought YOU could do a better job than the author of  the latest book you read, or movie you saw, this blog couldn't hurt - much.
Too often those half or hour-long addresses to groups blow off with the wind, unrecorded. Its a pity because not all the life experiences of someone can possibly be committed to paper. That burning question you've always wanted to ask may not have been included in the books you've read. 
A living source could provide an answer.
That was my premise. Prime the pump, stimulate a Q & A session for readers who wanted to become writers, but did not know how.
Here's the gist.

How To Turn Readers into Writers [1,800 words ]

Talk for Hawthorne Public Library Readers, March 22, at Two


It is said it takes 10,000 hours of practicing something before one becomes proficient at it.
Lucy you!
By the end of this session you will only have 9,999 to go!
By some calculations that's about eight years. BUT...and there's always a BUT – is that a lineal, uninterrupted, 10-thou' where you did not take time to sleep, eat and take care of other bodily functions. Or, is it the actual time spent practicing, learning, honing, improving the task you have undertaken?
Like so many sayings, and cliches, it needs to be taken... with a pinch of salt!

Most articles and books about writing – written by name-authors – advise READING as a path to Writing.
Most of you ARE readers already. The difference between reading for Pleasure – and reading to Learn – will hopefully become apparent, soon.

There are people in this room who can throw together a dinner party for eight at eight in a flash. And others who have no difficulty describing the toppings, on a take-out pizza ordered by phone, to comfort all participants in the feast. These are acquired skills, And, with the right spin, could be passed on to others through communicating by an article – or several articles – which in turn, could become: a BOOK!
You are within reach of becoming an author. Just by utilizing those untapped skills acquired while you accumulated YOUR 10,000 hours of credibility.
Wow... I bet you didn't know, when you arrived, you were just a heart-beat away from...CELEBRITY !
And now, for a dash of reality.
We all know how to ride a bike. But we don't possess the desire and devious dedication of Neil Armstrong to become a World Champion of the Tour de France.
The good news is – we also don't share in his downfall from grace.

Not all writers have Pulitzer Prize potential. When was the last time you heard of the author of a famous cook-book, such as Julia Childs, winning that award? The actors who played her, and writers who claimed her in biographies, did. They were the ones who re-created a personality the viewing public, and cooking audience, was not prepared to say good-bye to, with her passing in 2004.
There are also audiences for John Paul Jones, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston and – coincidentally – an American hero of history I have recently written about: Midshipman David Porter – In Harms Way. The world may not know about him yet...but they will by the time Book SEVEN is in print!
Porter may not be my path to a Pulitzer Prize. BUT, I already consider myself singularly successful amongst writers. I am the only one to have been awarded the exclusive “Pulitizer Tummy-Rub”... from Roxanne. Of course, that was BEFORE she read the contents of my book, Palm Beach Scandals – An Intimate Guide.

It is NOT necessary to become a murderer to become one. Court records are filled with chapter and verse of horrific homicides to chose from. The task of the writer is to present the facts in a way which will make readers want more.
Many readers become writers when their favorite character(s) die off or become so formulaic they have shifted from 'comfort' reading to a predicable irritant. At that stage, in order to sustain the pleasure of their company, the Reader creates a replacement protagonist. It may not match Hercule Poirot or Miss Marples – but its a start.
By the way – anyone know Miss Marple's first name?
Its Jane!

But (there we go again) as you walked through the library into this room you passed the stock-in-trade of most publishing houses, which are the Non-Fiction bread-and-butter books of realism. NOT not literary escapism.
The comfort of cozy mysteries, romantic Renaissance historical heroines, mysteries, vampires, wolverines and horror stories only provide 30-per-cent of all books published. Though their mega-copy sales by top writers like Harry Potter's magical creator R.K. Rawlings...the first to nett One BILLION Dollars, the supporting cast of characters like thee and me would probably have a tough time making the mortgage payments.
As Dirty Harry posed in that classic shoot'em-up cop-flick, “You gotta ask yourself, are you feelin' lucky?”
That is part of the equation but practice, Practice, PRACTICE is needed [did someone say 10,000 hours? ] as well.

And – WHY do you want to write? To see your name in print? Make money? Teach the world? Leave a legacy? Show THEM!
Motivation – inspiration and PERSPIRATION are all called for if you want to become a writer; whether its for personal satisfaction or to answer a calling. Like the insurance-company agent's cell-phone reminder of an overdue payment date [or the librarian's notice; it is time to return that book you've been using to prop up the leg of the wobbly table.]
My motivation was a way to explore the world that interested me – and get paid to do it.
It was an era devoid of journalism schools. There were classes for typing. There were classes for shorthand. The only class available to teach How-To find a story was through observation and a curiosity about everything. The theory was...if it interested YOU then, properly packaged, it could capture the interest of READERS!
Journalism, in the days when every community in every country in the world relied primarily on newspapers for a news-fix, seemed like a good idea at the time. It enabled me to get first-hand exposure to everything from Mushroom-Farming to Murder. Those experiences, translated into pithy prose, became the “stop-press' call for street-corner newspaper-boys, wire-service feeds and sometimes, a front-page headline for Fleet Street.
Inspiration can come from anything, anywhere, BUT – the writer has to be AWARE...of potential for a story. Plus WHERE and for WHOM it will appeal.
Of all the writer guides available in glossy magazines, costing upward of $10.00 each, only a tiny amount of space can be devoted to potential sources of sales for freelance writers. However, a professional Writer can get all the information needed, quickly and cheaply by merely searching the magazine he/she has in mind, and finding the 'Writers Guideline' field. Usually buried way down on the editorial page, it states who the publisher, editor, art-director, copy-boy, coffee-girl are.
There's even an online web-page available, now, which indexes submissions by category, at:
However, the editorial guidelines are only an educated guess to the mind-set of the current editor. Keep in mind, the staff of magazines are as ephemeral as the products themselves. Today's cutting-edge crusading crew may be dispersed on the next tidal-wave of conglomerations seeking to 'Rule the Publishing' world.
I once worked for a newspaper who encouraged me to dig deep into the workings of a local Sheriff. When my multiple-chapter series was turned in for editors and lawyers to scrutinize before publication – they killed it.
The new owners – from a far off land – AGREED with the politics of 'their man' on the ground.
Another job-change for me, though!

Few who have ever visited a doctor, dentist or vets office can be unaware of dog-eared copies of Reader's Digest. It is published in 49 editions, 21 languages and reaches a readership greater than 40-million.
Guess how many original stories this DIGEST prints?
But every year enough people buy stamps to mail off their newly-birthed Vampire Mom and the Wall-Mart Wolverine manuscripts to support the GNP of a small country!
They spent their money on postage...instead of an ice-cream...BECAUSE ?
They did NOT read the 'Writers Guidelines' section of the Reader's Digest editorial requirements which states: Please note that Reader’s Digest does not print poetry or fiction.
It will print original items from freelancers in its various department sections: Making it Matter; My View; My Story, but its a very limited market. knew that was coming – what they don't say is the person writing the story has to be the person IN the story.

For every brilliant singer, scientist, golf-pro and soldier there is an opportunity for a writer. Not all professional or skilled people have the ability, or time, to write the book the public yearns to read.
A writer who can strings words together, in the right sequence, combine facts with entertainment and titillation, CAN vicariously live in someone elses shoes – for a little while. Beware, though. The glamor aspect wears through QUICKLY. The grunge and grunt reality of getting the facts, then assembling them in an entertaining and informative sequence – which also meets with the approval of 'X” ( and handlers) - can be INTERESTING!!!

The scariest thing for most writers, beginners and pros, is the blank page or screen.
The longer one looks at it the harder it is to start.
One writer I know employs the “Letter to my brother” ploy. He begins to type a catch-up letter, outlining familiar family situations, then tells about his latest commission and begins to outline the story idea he has, then CHOPS everything out - not relevant to his story. Then... he Writes ON!
Remember – You Can't Edit a BLANK PAGE


When you leave here 95% of what you heard will float off and next time you sit down to write that blank page will still be staring back at you.

Writing is a lonely business. Here are some “CRISIS” Links to get you started.

Florida Writers Association
It has branches throughout the state. The 'Ancient City Writers', based in St. Augustine, is the most active one locally. It regularly meets the THIRD Saturday of the month at the Main Library. There's also a group in Ocala and one based at Palm Coast. Check it out.
FWA also runs seminars, a state conference, competitions, publications and creates awards following writing competititions.

Closer to home, an active group of wordsmiths based in Gainesville called WAG – Writers Alliance of Gainesville – holds regular meetings at Millhopper Library. They also feature PODS; groups of like-thinking genre-specific writers who informally gather to discuss, critique and give help and feedback to new material. Check it out at:

Be sure to leave your name and Email – LEGIBLE – before you leave. My Email is And remember – the Library is your Lifeline to the writing life!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Will be book-signing today with a plethora of authors, as part of the annual Azalea Festival in Palatka, Florida. Its a town sitting on the banks of the up-side-down St. Johns River; it flows NORTH from central Florida's wetlands to the city of Jacksonville at its mouth to the Atlantic Ocean.

During its lifetime the city has known boom and bust, its fortunes changing as transportation from sail to steam on the many waterways of the state, gave way to freight-hauling railroads and the interlocking interstate highways.
Currently its a blow-through community with commuters from the student and academic housing University of Florida (The 'Gators) and Shands medical facilities at Gainesville, en route to the oldest, continuously occupied city (1565) in the USA, St. Augustine. It is filled with trippers and fripperies, art stores and eateries to cater for many tastes. Backwater shrimp-boats and replica Spanish galleons near the Bridge of Lions, are amongst the wide ranging fleet of working vessels and attractions dotting the waterfronts.
Palatka is continually trying to establish itself as a 'destination location'. The Azalea Festival and later, the Bluecrab Festival - critturs trapped  locally - are a couple of events. But 'organizers' still seek the right combination to return to those glory days when Presidents, Poets and Power-brokers stayed in Palatka.
Hope to see YOU, today...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sadly the updates of my blog took a nose dive when the bright young things from Google decided - without consultation, of course - to re-invent the blog-site I'd finally got comfortable with.
The following contents may be clunky, during this test-run, but it may prime the pump to get the motor running again.

Since last I posted, two more books have been added to the Old Book Shop Publication imprint. As a subtle way to link the 'nautical' theme of similar books planned for the future, my author-name has gathered a couple of extra letters: M.D. No, the initials do not stand for 'Mad Dog' as some Anglophobe have suggested; nor Medical Doctor as spam solicitors have discovered to their chagrin. Just my middle-names which I was encumbered with, following family practice of incorporating our forefathers names into the (then) present, at the christening.

When you have the Welsh-equivalent of Smith as a surname, every little difference helps searchers find the writer they're looking for.

I once mistakenly latched onto what I thought, at a quick glance, was a new Forester book. I guessed it would be a further saga in the nautical Horatio Hornblower series. I only discovered my error when a few pages into Passage to India the actions of E.M. Forster's characters rudely awakened a prurient awareness of the adult world, in the mind of an impressionable schoolboy. I didn't make that mistake again, and double-checked the author was, indeed, C.S. Forester before opening the covers of future books borrowed from the library.

My new books Midshipman David Porter – In Harms Way (The Porter Saga) and Up & Down the Ditch: Cruising the Intracoastal Waterway – with Murphy's Law are nautical in nature. 
Many years ago, when the Palm Beach Old Book Shop was a meeting spot for readers and writers sunning the winter season away in South Florida, I discovered the real-life American sailor David Porter. I devoured stories of his exploits on the other side of the coin from his fictional equivelant, during the transitional period from the great seafaring age of square-rig sailing ships, to steamboats.


How could such a valient hero disappear from the pages of history? I set about 'factionalizing' him, his family – which included adopted son David Glasgow Farragut – and literary contemporaries such as Washington Irving and Edgar Allen Poe. Finally Book One in the series – only SIX more to go – has appeared in Tree and Eeee versions.
Also, my introduction to trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway; which began as an inexpensive summer holiday helping a skipper friend out, generated a series of cartoon-filled sketch-books which I felt many other boaty types could relate to. As a 'bonus' the book contains a “me 'n Joe” type yarn of my maiden voyage on a small boat up the Atlantic Seaboard – hove-to in a nor'easter off Cape Fear – delivering a duplicate sloop to the former boss of Xerox!

Oddly enough, both men and women reacted positively to the Beta versions circulated pre-publication, and hopefully will fill a needed niche on the nautical shelves of active - and armchair sailors, or all flavors.
Feedback would be welcome – and a posted review on would be splendid: pro and con!