Wednesday, December 31, 2014
He lay on his back. The rain was soft, misty, comforting. The grass pressed into him, complaining only slightly at his presence. He felt it tickling his back, his arms, his legs, his buttocks. He realised he was naked. Little rivulets flowed off his legs, cascaded around his knees, flowed in eddies around his pubic hair and puddled in his navel. He felt his feet pointing up, but could see nothing except clouds. The rain massaged every bit of him, washing him, soothing him, cleaning him.. Grass, wet pinpoints, tension gone. No thoughts, sensation only.
He moved silently through the streets. The rain still washed him, still placed little pinpricks of pleasure on his skin. The grass still did not protest as his feet brushed along the dark green blades, the beads of rain vibrating slightly as his soles passed over. The water ran in rivulets from his hair down his back, leaping from his buttocks in an organic cascade; it trickled in a torrent of purity over his chest, his stomach, his sex, leaping from his penis and testicles, some managing to cling to his legs most finding rest on the grass below.
￼He was aware of a discomfort now. Searching. He was searching for something. Something misplaced. He lowered his face for a moment and looked straight ahead, passing grey through branches emerging on the other side.
He glistened in the rain. Although naked, he felt no cold, only pleasure at the small pricks of water bouncing off his skin. He noticed the tree - it seemed to be part of him - he looked up and saw branches rattling in a wind, beating a rhythm matching his heart. He moved beyond and the grass under his feet seemed filled with joy under him. Warmth moved from him inside down his legs to the grass, gratefully received. He turned his face up again, eyes wide open to the rain showering his face in a sensual throb, almost pornographic in its insistent beat.
He turned, hearing human voices approaching and a dog snuffling happily, chatting to itself, doubly happy knowing its people could not, did not understand. Simon did. The dog stopped for a moment, straining against its leash, jerking the man holding the other end to a stop. Simon and the dog - Henry was his human-given name - stared at each other, comprehending, communicating, calm and knowing. The people, the man with the leash and the woman casually holding his arm, looked but saw only grass and a lone tree. Simon stood naked, invisible and silent, then slowly floated up slightly, feeling comfort in the light breeze, fresh after the rain.
A big branch had come down from the oak onto the pavement in front, and they had to manoeuvre around it, one dog going one way, the other the opposite and Simon right into it. He yelled DOGS! STOP! and yanked Bo as Charley was unyankable. Simon wondered for a moment if ‘unyankable’ was a word. ‘Well it should be’ he thought, as finally he got the pack of two (well three, including myself, he thought) around the obstacle.
Except, he bumped, that is actually, literally ‘bumped’ into a woman on the other side.
Simon not only bumped, sending her off balance, but tripped on a small branch sticking out from the main one, doing a little dance to keep his balance. He stuttered an apology as she made a small sound of annoyance, followed by a screech.
‘A screech,’ Simon thought? No, it was a cat’s noise of anger and pain. She had stepped on a cat. ‘A cat!’, Simon pulled back desperately on the leads trying to control the dogs and failing, as they raced across the lawn of the nearest house chasing a big black cat, trailing its own leash. Simon leaped like a drunken, two-legged deer over a flower bed, legs bicycling in the air and clipping the tops of the flowers. Down he came on the other side, heavily on his face. But, the leads were still firmly in hand and the dogs were stopped by his prone weight on the grass on the other side of the flower bed.
Now he heard laughing. Musical laughing, but laughing, from behind.
He turned on his side and looked up. She stood over him, greeting Simon with an open smile, clear now in the streetlight she had moved under. He lay still for a moment and looked. Blue eyes…. no green… hazel? He felt her presence, her ‘there-ness’ radiating out from those eyes, propelled by a smile that made her beautiful. He moved down her body, the pea jacket fitted her, flaring out nicely over her hips, leaving jean encased thighs and legs showing their nature. Surprisingly in that cold, she wore light shoes, strapped over the foot. She moved a bit, noticing his gaze, and smiled more, a slight, sexual sway added, and Simon blushed, hoping she didn’t notice, but knowing she did.
She bent forward, offering her arm, ‘Let me help you up’. Her voice was a symphony warming up, lilting tones in different keys, somehow forming a song running behind words. He nodded, and boosted his body part way up and reached for her arm, moving onto his knees in front of her. Again that wave of almost desire, and blushing rose in him as he paused for a moment before her, then made the final move to his feet.
Musette VanKoughnet walked, rather strolled along Barrier Avenue, Ardene her cat, trotting ahead like a small dog. The air was cold and fresh from the storm just ended, a cold rain, not snow. She was happy for that gift, as she could wear her light shoes. She spent most of her days barefoot in Summer weather, then switched to these that just protected her feet from cold pavement or wet grass, held on by criss-crossed straps. Old worn jeans and an old pea jacket she could still wear. She reached up to touch a low hanging branch and one leaf, still green, delighting in its silky and rough texture. Ardene tugged a bit and Musette moved on, silently saying goodbye to the leaf. A large branch had fallen from an old oak across the sidewalk and into the road a bit. She thought of moving it, but it looked too large and heavy. She stood for a moment, letting the cold breeze refresh her, breathing it in, when two large dogs, dragging a man, crashed around the branch bashing into her. She stumbled back a bit, annoyed, stomping on Ardene’s tail, who screeched and ripped her lead free and took off across the yard to the right, dogs and man leaping crazily after. She turned, annoyance already evaporated and laughed at the sight of this strange male figure leaping and shouting over the nearby flower bed. He crashed to the ground, heavily, breath grunting loudly out of him as he hit. She laughed again, but felt a little peeved with herself for a moment for laughing. He held the leashes tightly still as she went over to see if he were ok.
He rolled part way over and she looked into his eyes. Brown, dark brown eyes that instantly let her in, deep inside, him. This time she blushed a little, also happy the dark hid this unforeseen reaction. He, however, did not notice. She never blushed when she looked into men’s eyes. What was different? She stopped, thinking about men she had known, forgetting the cool breeze, only lightly aware of Ardene who had trotted back, archly ignoring the curious snuffles of the two dogs. There was Paul and his happy sexual teasing, like a small boy being naughty; Mike and his fierce concerns about whatever was trendy; sweet Mario with his hint of accent and courtly advances. She saw them unblinking and accepting, but holding herself back, hidden. This was different; he was different. He saw her too. This was ….. disconcerting.
She came back to ‘now’ and realized he, the man, was kneeling before her, almost in supplication, looking up smiling. She stirred and spoke and helped him the rest of the way, blushing again.
They stood for a long moment, inches apart. Simon, not tall, not short, brown hair, dark brown eyes, healthy but dishevelled - clothes old and comfortable, barely hiding a comfortable body. Musette, slightly shorter, with those eyes that saw, set in alabaster and framed with long, very long, dark hair. Simon was not sure how dark in that night air, but her hair flowed freely down her back, with stray and disobedient strands on her cheeks.
Musette brushed them away, shaking her head slightly. They felt each other’s presence, male and female, breathing and noticing. Simon imagined her alabaster extending down under her clothes, feeling desire faint at first, but irrepressible. Her casual and well worn jacket and jeans made him want to touch, to experience this beauty. She, Musette, felt his beginning desire radiating out and felt oddly at ease with it. His oddly worn clothes, corduroys with a sheen, a coat that had a tear on one sleeve seemed to hide a shabby gentleness, a questing for.. what? Passion? Love? No.. simple acceptance, she realized.
Simon spoke, ‘I don’t think I’ve seen you before. I would have remembered your cat.’ He smiled, not mocking, just stating in an unsurprised way. Musette laughed again, eyes now sea green, a light, happy sound, the symphony of her voice in tune now, ‘Well, cats do love to be out, but I don’t like the thought of her on her own, meeting wild things and picking up diseases.’
‘Do you live around here?’ she asked, changing the topic.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Saturday, December 20, 2014
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
These paintings and ideas, especially 'Olive Trees in a Mountainous Landscape' seemed to match how I write poetry. In my case, I attempt to present images, textures, sound, touch in words. My words most often reject narrative, though not always, and attempt to induce sensations in the reader or speaker. For example I would love to write a poem to go with 'Olive Trees' but of course dare not given the evils of copyright. In the following slide in this presentation, it was not so much the painting 'Wheat Fields' as the insert on that slide showing Van Gogh's luscious, sensuous brush strokes, that moved me. Here the unnamed art historian used the phrase 'sensuous physicality'. I would say I attempt 'sensuous physicality' in my poetry.
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
My brain is like an old attic, filled with dust and cobwebs and mysterious boxes on shelves or scattered about the floor. Every once in a while I open one of those cartons and take out stories and ideas to add to the Sky Man tale. Sometimes I stumble into a box on a shelf and it falls and stories spill out, and I take one and use it also.
Well, one of those is called 'The Bench by the River'. It is a romance, spiced with the reality of romance, intimacy of emotion and body. This story is just over 2000 words now and will be both a separately published story, text only, released on as many eBook places as I can, and one of the linked parts of The Man who fell from the Sky.
Here it is December 31, 2014 and it looks like I won't make my deadline! Quelle surprise! The Bench by the River is now 85% done and I may get a bit more finished by midnight, but may not!
The Man who fell from the Sky is at 79%, so will not I am betting. So close, but no cigar.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Stay with me as I sort through this in my own mind. I have skimmed through a few articles and blog posts on this dispute, but have not paid close attention. After watching/reading the above link, I decide it was time I dived in, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.
In the United States, a guild of best selling authors has taken Amazon to task over its contractual dispute with Amazon.
Let me set the scene: Amazon began in business by selling books which it obtained under contract from different publishers. I recall watching a 60 Minutes piece many years ago when Amazon began, showing how it received, sorted, and packaged books in a vast operation to send to customers who had purchased these online. Amazon was a giant online retailer, with a huge warehouse operation to distribute books using courier services to customers who browsed virtual bookshelves on their home computers (or work computers too, I imagine). Now, books are a small percentage of Amazon's business as they operate as a retailer of all sorts of products - they are a giant, online department store now, with a book department. In order to sell these products, they have contracts with each producer, obviously. You buy at wholesale and sell at retail, but as any retailer can and often does, you may sell at a loss, or break even or at a profit per item, depending on your best business sense.
One of these suppliers is a publishing company called Hachette. Hachette has been portrayed sometimes as a small publisher being assaulted by that business behemoth Amazon. Make no mistake, however, Hachette is not a David battling Goliath. The publishing company is part of a French media conglomerate called Lagardère. There is a huge difference in revenue, but Hachette is not poor by any means - it has annual revenues of around 9 billion U.S. dollars compared to Amazon's $74 billion. This is a vast difference, but is clearly not some struggling hand-to-mouth company headed by dreamy book lovers fighting hard nosed business operators.
Recently, Amazon entered into negotiations with Hachette over the cut Amazon gets from sales of books published by Hachette. They, at this point in time, have no contract. This, of course, means that Amazon is under no obligation to stock Hachette books in its warehouses or to sell them to customers. This would be a silly move on Amazon's part as negotiations continue and revenue and profits are earned from Hachette's stable of best-selling authors. Instead, Amazon continues to stock and sell books published by Hachette, but is employing negotiating ploys such as no longer taking pre-orders for Hachette books that are about to be published. As one of the debaters in the link I posted at the top here states, that with no contract in place, Amazon has no obligation to sell or stock any Hacehtte book.
As an indie author whose published work is way under the radar - the books from which I have earned good money (well, good as defined by my average income!) were published by small historical associations or museums or are that unsaleable commodity, poetry - I am merely an interested bystander in all this. On one side you have a corporation with $74 billion in annual sales, and on the other big shot authors like Stephen King. On the Amazon side you also have two of the most successful indie authors in the world: Joe Konrath, who publishes exclusively with Amazon, and Hugh Howey who publishes both as an indie and has contracts with traditional publishers.
Two things stood out for me from the video. Firstly, the President of the Author's Guild vehemently denied that books are a product, but a special category for which she had no word. She seemed to regard books as a cultural artifact living in a rarified place above the mere grubbiness of business. The business commentator saw books as a product like any other and Amazon as one retailer of this product. I am undecided. Books are a product, but they are also a cultural artifact. Are paintings and sculpture and music merely products? Or are they something more? I think, that despite the elitism inherent in Roxanne Robinson's position, they are. Even the worst sort of fiction or polemic are cultural artifacts as well as products. But they are cultural artifacts only to the writer - and not all writers see them as such - many, perhaps most see writing as a business. A few years back, I was engaged in a discussion site where the question was asked: If you knew for a certainty you would never sell anything you wrote, would you still write. There were maybe three or four dozen writers on this list, and of them only two, myself and one other said yes. The remainder said no - what was the point of writing if you didn't make money from it? While the Authors' Guild might be correct in some academic sense, the reality is for most writers, books are a product. Secondly, the Authors' Guild only represents old line writers who have lucrative book deals with legacy publishers - like many others, it does not understand indie writing or publishing. Likely it will perish as a result of this lack.
I think the problem here is a clash of civilizations to steal from Samuel Huntington. On the one hand, you have legacy publishing and the authors still doing well from that system - a solitary author writing the great novel, query letter sent to agent, agent finds a publisher after submitting to anywhere from one to 20 or so, editors assigned, final manuscript, printing, placement in book stores, book signings, interviews, and finally sales - and in this the author got an advance against sales. Most advances are never covered by sales, but the few that are make huge sums and keep the publisher in business.
Something fundamental occurred about 30 years ago when personal computers were created. Next came the world wide web in the early 1990s. Then eBooks about 10 years ago. Suddenly anyone can write and put their work up for anyone to read, peruse, even buy. Since that time a struggle has ensued between the old print book ecosystem and this new, free and flexible universe. This struggle is part of the battle between those who have done very well, thank you, in the old and the new freedoms. You might say that this has unleaded a torrent of bad writing. Perhaps, but no one has to buy or read that poor writing. The market now consists of writers and readers and those between these are becoming less relevant. Agents and companies who see the new universe have altered to work in it - authors often still need and more importantly, want technical help in terms of the producing their product for the internet; or as self published print books. Amazon, Lulu, Kobo, Smashwords are some of the groups and corporations that have arisen to support writers. Writers still need editors and designers. Editors and designers have always been available on a freelance basis and still are. What we have is an unleashing of creative talent, not its demise.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
He wrote, among other things, that printed books are not going the way of the Dodo as have CDs or videos which are now usually found online. This is because printed and eBooks have different uses for different people and because there are so many types of books. For example, when I cook I set my iPad up on a stand (ironically a stand manufactured to hold a printed book for a typist) and I thereby dispense with pages flipping closed. I also read this way for the same reason as I eat breakfast or lunch - it is an ideal way to read a newspaper or a novel without having to deal with keeping the book open at the right spot. Also when I find myself standing in a long line, or waiting for some reason or other for someone else to act before my turn comes, I pull out my iPhone and open a book or newspaper and read. I cannot carry a book around easily, even the wrongly name pocket books. Very few printed books actually fit into any pocket I have and the few that do (mostly those produced by Shambhala - though I don't know if the make those little tiny ones anymore)
But, on the rare occasion when I have leisure, there is not much better than sitting in a big comfie wing chair and reading a printed book.
What he said that made the most sense to me was that heavy readers - and I suspect all readers - will for the foreseeable future, and do now, read both eBooks and printed books. Some types of books work well only as printed books, others work best as eBooks, most can be presented in both formats.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
In the meantime here is an image from the Wellcome Trust:
Since I posted this, An Apple a Day, second edition has been uploaded to the Apple iBookstore. The other eBook retailers do not handle images well, so I am still working on the Amazon version - or rather a friend who knows a bit about CSS, etc. is trying to fix the photos for me. (September 11, 2014)
Saturday, May 10, 2014
I have no answers here as my life's situation does not allow for a normal position of happiness. I would have to be a madman to be happy. But I am a writer and to put it more particularly, a writer who is firstly a poet. I write emotion. So, how do I write happiness?
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Sunday, March 16, 2014
The legacy publishing and writing industry want to arrogate to themselves the rather high sounding title 'author'. To them, only a writer who has been published by a legacy house has the right to be called an author. Everyone else is a mere writer. I thought that nonsense at the time as I quite happily call myself a writer because that's what I do. Some of what I write is published for profit, some is not. To call myself an author I somehow feel I would have to have one of those 1950s head shots for a back cover, and wear a tweed or corduroy jacket with tie and smoke a pipe, gazing off to stage left or right with a look of deep wisdom on my face. The reality of course is me in my pyjamas [rarely without as I get rather cold now that I am older], hair shooting off at crazy angles and mug of coffee to hand.
But, to get back to the PLR payment. Does the fact that I get a cheque each year from the Canadian government for books borrowed from libraries allow me into the guarded guild of authors? Does that trump publication by a legacy publisher? I do have one book published that way, but the Canadian Authors' Association used to demand two such, though now I believe one legacy publication is enough. I noticed they have a section on self-publishing but do not seem to understand it well. Well, it doesn't matter to me one way or the other as I will write and publish any way I can regardless of what some snot of an author might think. And I cannot see why I would spend good money joining an elite club. I like wearing my pjs too much. Or nothing at all. Maybe one day I will be included here in Bare it for Books
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Love is a relationship.
If I must have a definition, this seems as good a place to start as any. This definition is loose, the lines are in pencil and an unsharpened, soft lead pencil at that.
There are many kinds of relationships which allow considerable scope for writers to write love. Love, by this very pencilled in definition can mean anything from pornography to God is love. [My apologies for mentioning anything so crass as faith - but see my History of Religion blog].
A 'Giver' and a 'Taker.' This can be love. One submits and one takes that submission. Most often used in pornography I would say, but toying with it can make erotica play with the line between porn and erotica and be quite effective in taking a reader [not to mention the writer!] into the alternate reality of anything written [both fiction and non-fiction present alternate realities]. It can also figure in deep character studies.
Pure Joy. This is the rarest I would say and in today's cynical and jaded world, the most difficult to make palatable to readers. Here two souls, two hearts, two bodies take joy in each other, in a dance that mimics ideas of eternal bliss.
Impure Joy. Two real people with real character flaws and real strengths bonding firstly as friends - friends being those who stay together while recognizing differences and irritations - and then as lovers, both in spirit and sexually. The most fun and satisfying to write, I would say, as it allows for sparks to fly as well as happiness to settle in to both writer and reader.
There are probably others, well certainly there are many, but off I go to my day job!
Monday, February 10, 2014
who thought you knew me from my verses,
since they’re erotic, not modest enough.
It suits the poet himself to be dutifully chaste,
his verses not necessarily so at all:
which, in short then, have wit and good taste
even if they’re erotic, not modest enough,
and as for that can incite to lust,
I don’t speak to boys, but to hairy ones
who can’t move their stiff loins.
You, who read all these thousand kisses,
you think I’m less of a man?
I’ll fuck you, and I’ll bugger you.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
The second phase of my reality check came last night. My passion is poetry and a form I choose to call prose poetry. I have only one project that I am desperate to complete: The Man who fell from the Sky. A truly multimedia [not enhanced!] eBook prose poem - something actually new and different and the product of my imagination.
The problem is, I do not know if I will have the time left even for this one passion. So... to make the odds slightly better I 'hid' my two Facebook pages dealing with writing - Experimental Writing and Books Published, in order to remove the temptation to play by putting poems and excerpts in those places. I was going to abandon this blog, and may still... but I seem to need a place to rant, think things out in words, .... whatever.
Some might say, make time. Hmmm... well 75% of my day is spent caring for my invalid wife, and most of the other 25% in my day job, teaching online courses part time at two universities, and publishing some things for others under my hesitant almost publishing company, WordDancer Pubications. I am a little nervous about no longer having several writing projects possible, as they are cutting me back due to financial constraints in the Humanities and Arts [I teach History]. I might keep a Romantic bit of erotica that is a spin off from Sky Man.... probably I can justify it that way and one who knows told me I write erotica reasonably well.... and there is money there....
So.....I will keep my WordDancer Publications project going, and focus on the erotica spin off from Sky Man and then Sky Man. Everything else to do with writing will have to be subdued or vanish.
Monday, January 27, 2014
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Friday, January 17, 2014
Friday, January 10, 2014
I thought about that but wondered, what if this seemingly irrelevant fact was needed to solve a particular crime? How does one know that information is relevant or is not? This gave me some comfort as my mind is cluttered, and I mean cluttered with odds and sods of information disconnected often from its provenance. When needed I rummage around .. or more often, they just pop into my head at the right time - a small scale, personal example of kairos I guess.
This all began as I thought about my current writing project - a series of histories of religions I am doing for Northern Blue. This sort of writing requires careful charting of facts and their equally careful organization. There is room for words that leap off the page at the reader, but these leaps are fun embellishments of the necessary structure. Well, for me they are not embellishments I guess, as I would go mad if I couldn't practice writing as an art first.