Life in progress


Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale by Charles Yallowitz

Check out Ionia’s review of Charles Yallowitz’s new poetry collection, “Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale”.

readful things blog

Bestiary of Blatherhorn ValeFound in a battered field notebook, these poems are the remnants of an expedition to the legendary Blatherhorn Vale. Cut off from human contact, the creatures of this mysterious land are nothing more than rumors. At this time, we cannot determine if these are true notes about unknown creatures or the ramblings of a madman. You be the judge.–Description from Goodreads Bestiary of Blatherhorn Vale by Charles E. Yallowitz

If you are a fan of fantasy and unique original creatures all told in poetic form, this book will be one you do not want to miss. Charles Yallowitz is known for his limitless imagination, and this is yet more proof that he is very good at his chosen craft.

The poems contained in this volume are well written and captivate the reader’s imagination completely. I spent my time while reading through this poetry imagining what these creatures looked like…

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Opening a Novel

According to a blog post I read here at Brainsnorts the most important part about opening a novel is the first four sentences. So I decided to go to my bookshelf and pick up four novels at random and check it out, to see if there’s anything the first few sentences have in common in each book. These were my selections:

Standing Stones – The Best stories of  John Metcalf

“Single Gents Only” (a short story)

After David had again wrested the heavy suitcase from his father’s obstinately polite grip and after he’d bought the ticket and assured his mother he wouldn’t lose it, the three of them stood in the echoing booking hall of the railway station. His mother was wearing a hat that looked like a pink felt Christmas pudding.

David knew that they appeared to others as obvious characters from a church-basement play. His father was trying to project affability or benevolence by moving his head in an almost imperceptible nodding motion while gazing with seeming approval at a Bovril advertisement.

This seems to me like a promising story. There is movement in it in the form of the fact that these people are going somewhere. The fact that the son takes the suitcase from his father tells me that he’s an adult. I want to know where they’re going. The description is good enough that I can imagine the scene easily.

The Marks of Cain by Tom Knox

Simon Quinn was listening to a young man describe how he’d sliced off his own thumb.

“And that,” said the man, “was the beginning of the end. I mean, cutting off your thumb, with a knife, that’s not nothing, is it? That’s serious shit. Cutting your own thumb off. Fucked my bowling.”

Okay, that was more than four sentences, but they were short ones. Shoot me. This opening is interesting. It doesn’t have much in the area of description, but how much description do we need? We can easily imagine the blood involved. Who is the man to Simon and why is he listening to such a horrific story? I want to know more.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

It wasn’t a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance. Mrs. Baird’s was like a thousand other Highland bed-and-breakfast establishments in 1945; clean and quiet, with fading floral wallpaper, gleaming floors, and a coin-operated hot-water geyser in the lavatory. Mrs. Baird herself was squat and easygoing, and made no objection to Frank lining her tiny rose-sprigged parlor with the dozens of books and paper with which he always traveled.

I met Mrs. Baird in the front hall on my way out.

This opens very nicely indeed. The description is lush and from it we gather that Mrs. Baird is not going to be a central character, as we don’t get her first name from the narrator. Best of all, the very first sentence tells us that something mysterious will happen! Again, I want to read more!

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

I stare up through gaps in the sea-grass parasol at the bluest of skies, summer blue, Mediterranean blue, with a contented sigh. Christian is beside me, stretched out on a sun lounge. My husband – my hot, beautiful husband, shirtless and in cut-off jeans – is reading a book predicting the collapse of the Western banking system. By all accounts, it’s a page-turner.

Here we have two shades of blue and a good-looking man reading a boring book.

So. What do three of these openings have in common? Amazing descriptiveness, movement, action and/or gore and some element which makes us want to know more. What’s going to happen? Who are these people? Why are they; 1. in a train station; 2. cutting off their own thumbs; 3. staying in a place where someone is going to disappear?

And number 4? It tells us what not to do. By all accounts, it’s a page-turner. 😉

Thank you again to Brainsnorts for the idea for this post!


Adventures on my Paper Route – is this the Ent?

I see faces in all kinds of places. This one is pretty easy to see:


Nice face

I took this picture a little over a month ago while delivering papers, but it never seemed interesting enough to post.

Here’s another I took the same day:


Death mask?

To me this one has more of a death mask feel to it. Do you see it? Maybe it’s just my crazy imagination.

And speaking of crazy imaginations…

I wonder if this first tree is unhappy about its new protrusion on its proboscis:


big tree zit

Maybe to a tree this is bling. I think I’d want to sneeze.





The Versatile Blogger Award


Thank you so very much to the lovely  Amara for this most prestigious award. I’m honoured to accept and do so happily and humbly.

I must share seven things about myself. I’ll try to make them as interesting as possible. After all, no one wants to know the boring stuff, right?

1. I’m finding this extremely difficult.

2. I’m not very interesting.

3. Okay, that was cheating.  I’m a cheater!  HA!

4. I hate Windows 8. Now I’m waiting for my laptop to blow up out of revenge.

5. I love and appreciate my fellow bloggers!  Yes, let’s make this about you too! 😀

6. My second favourite fragrance is that of roses.

7. Is this 7 already. My, where did the time go? I’m scatterbrained sometimes.

Yay! I did it.

Finally I have the great pleasure of offering this award to fifteen bloggers. This is going to be difficult!

1. Kira, at Wrestling Life

2. Maniniyot, at A traveling programmer from The Philippines

3. Eyagee, at Eyagee’s Blog

4. Steve, at Heed not Steve

5. Franny Stevenson, at Dr. Franny and Mrs. Myself

6. Lights of Clarity

7. Little Bird’s Dad

8.  Wilson K.

9. Beth, at A Thousand Journies

10. Julian Froment

11. MJ Poetry

12. Paul Davis

13. Amanda Hart Miller

14. Elenia, at Kaffee und Kuchen

15. Dori Hartley, at Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Please make a point to visit all these wonderful sites – you’ll be glad you did!

For the blogs nominated, here’s what to do to accept the award:

The Rules and  Requirements for The Versatile Blogger Award

1. Add The Versatile Blogger award photo on a blog post

2. Thank the person (or mythical being) who presented you with the award and link back to him or her in your post

3. Share seven things about yourself

4. Pass the award along to 15 favourite bloggers. Contact the chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Cheers all! Happy blogging 😀


Research laziness

There are so many things I want to know! The minutiae of details I’d like to put into my stories require a vast amount of research. While I enjoy doing most research, it’s not all easy. For instance, I’d dearly love to know enough about horticulture so that I don’t have to search for pictures in order to name the flora I can so easily envision.

Like this:


I’ve been living with this hedge for three and half years and do I know what it is? Not a clue.

I’m good with researching things like diseases, psychology, historical eras and objects, sexuality, (okay, that one’s fun), culture, geography – all kinds of things.  But when it comes to botany…

hedge flowers

It’s just real purdy.

(I did just look up the difference between horticulture and botany.)

What do you have a hard time researching?


The future of publishing crap

This probably won’t be a very popular post but here I go with it anyway. With the invention of e-publishing new writers are coming out of the woodwork. These days anyone can publish their own work without having to pay money to do so. ANYONE. Who can be held accountable for what goes out there? It used to be that when you bought a book there was at least someone out there who believed in it. Sure, there was still a lot of crappy writing, but at least if you didn’t like a book you could sell it at a garage sale and get some of your money back.

I may not be in a position myself to say what I write is good, or that I won’t eventually go the route of self-publishing, but I’ve been reading long enough to distinguish what’s good and what is crap and I am appalled at how unbalanced it has become in the wrong direction. Up until last year I had never failed to finish reading a novel, no matter how bad it was. This year alone I have thrown up my hands in disgust at no less than three novels on my e-reader. Nowadays everyone thinks they can write. Many of the people self-publishing have long forgotten what they learned in Grade 3 grammar, and I hate to think what novels would look like without spellcheck.

For me it came to the forefront with ’50 Shades of Grey’. The author, E.L. James, actually said in an interview she understands that people who read her books are people who don’t normally read. I can easily believe it. When I read it I thought to myself, great! If this can get published anything can. By God was I right. Everybody and their sister said the same thing! I’m sure editorial slush piles have never been bigger, making it that much harder for talented writers to get noticed.

Will we get to the point eventually where there are more writers than there are readers? The way it’s going now I wouldn’t be surprised. I copied and pasted the following from Kindle’s website. I think I can keep my tongue firmly planted in cheek and let this speak for itself:

Do I need any special skills to publish with Kindle Direct Publishing?
Kindle Direct Publishing does the basic work for you, but if your content contains a lot of special formatting, a bit of knowledge in HTML may come in handy.

In closing, if you’re serious about writing a novel and you want to publish it, take a class or two. Brush up on your skills first. Make more than the effort to learn HTML and learn how to write! Hold yourself accountable for putting out a good product. Perhaps we can keep future of publishing out of the crapper after all.



You are unique. I know you wish you weren’t. I know you don’t want to be thought of as different, but the fact is that you are.

There are not thousands of you, or even hundreds. There is you.

No one else thinks the way you do. No one looks like you or sees the things you see in exactly the way you see them.

No one even smells like you; you are sweeter than the rest.

When you go, the people who have known you will grieve, but they will also learn to smile. They will remember the joy with which you illuminated everyone around you.

Be proud to be unique. And know that the way you touch the earth is precious.


Adventures on my Paper Route – What I wanted to say was….

I had help today! 😀

Slave... I mean Alex

Slave… I mean Alex

He even took some pictures for me!

His favourite

His favourite

But the real adventure didn’t start until we came across the lady playing catch with her unleashed dog.

Me: (holding Alex by both hands as the dog is running towards us) He’s afraid of dogs.

Lady: Oh, he’s friendly.

Me: But he’s afraid of dogs.

Bitch: (looking around me at Alex who is straining to see where the dog went) Does he want to pet him?

Me: (hanging on to Alex for dear life so he doesn’t run into traffic) No, he’s afraid of dogs.

Psycho bitch: But he’s smiling…

Me: (in my head) Hey fuckflap! Have you ever considered how shitty you would feel if a kid got run over by a car because of your friendly fucking dog that you won’t restrain because you obviously know my son better than I do? Wake the fuck up and listen to me! HE’S AFRAID OF FUCKING DOGS!!!

In reality I said nothing because the dog had run off again. I should have said something.



Private Thoughts, Private World – Part 7

We all have reasons why we write what we write. As I talked about in my blog post ‘To Pseud or not to Pseud’ there are just some things we need to get out of our systems, not all of which we believe our families and friends will appreciate reading or hearing about. But keeping our thoughts to ourselves isn’t just for fiction.

I was reading this post by my good friend at HarsH ReaLiTy and he brought up some excellent points about the dangers of writing non-fiction as well. To simply have an opinion can be not only unfavorable amongst those we know and love but also a very real danger to our well beings. Besides the things Jay (not his real name) mentions in his article such as the repercussions that can result in marital strife and the legal aspects of slander (whether intentional or not) there are also dangers that go from things as simple yet traumatic as internet fights and harassment towards both yourself and your family to the very real possibility of stalking and, Gods forbid, physical harm. Do we therefore stop writing? Hell no!

Hiding behind a pseudonym though can only solve half the problem. Since medieval times and possibly before (I’m no history buff) people have been writing and hiding their names to protect themselves. Our digital footprint, whilst being put into being to protect our children from pedophiles etc., makes it that much harder to conceal ourselves. So unless we go back to printing up leaflets upon which to get out our message we must choose carefully what we decide to share. While I don’t really want to get into the entire ‘freedom of speech’ debate, we still have to consider what our responsibilities, our boundaries and our level of comfort all are before we write publicly.

I read an interview with Sakurai Atsushi (get used to seeing that name on my blog) in which he said, “…I can’t really help who I am and what I create.”  That touched me profoundly. The absolute need for a dedicated writer to produce and to expel his or her thoughts is irrepressible. I believe THAT, not whether or not we have or ever will be published is what makes us writers. How much of that should be restrained or hidden from sight or just concealed from being affiliated with our real identities is something we have to be able to judge for ourselves. May our judgement be sound.