Flowering Purple Basil

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About a year ago, I got a two Purple Basil plants. I am no master gardener, so I have tried to do well with keeping them healthy. I changed the soil out (Miracle Grow) once ever ten weeks or so and keep low-wattage bulbs on them with a timer. I water them only once or twice a day and ‘mist’ them gently with a spray bottle of water. I also give them those little plant food sticks once every two weeks or so.

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As happy as I have been that the plants even stayed living, I was even happier to see them flower. I did not know they could flower and was pretty amazed. So, I took some amateur photos of them to share. I think they are pretty awesome and cannot wait to see if the flowers make seeds. I am pretty sure they will need to be pollinated – we’ll see whether such a notion is even possible.

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Thank you for viewing this post. I was happy to share these photos with you.

A Book Review for Stephen King’s “On Writing”

“On Writing” was an enjoyable read. I originally purchased the book to read to improve my writing style without considering its entire title “… A Memoir of the Craft”. Even though King explains life experiences from his childhood to near present time, he still includes a great deal of positive advice for writing. Anyone struggling with writing or open to some inspirational thought will benefit from reading “On Writing”.

One reason the book, and Stephen King himself, gives me so much inspiration is the notion of writing about 1,400 words a day or more. This is a far easier idea than trying to set aside a 6-hour time slot to write as much as possible, and way easier than trying to write out an entire project only pausing when necessary. Producing a small amount of work by often habit is more feasible to justify and stay motivated with.

Another notion that I find inspiring is the idea of writing without too much plotting. I agree with King on this one -even if one plots out an entire story or novel, once one writes it out they generally change what goes on (or not) as you write it. If plotting with an outline helps you, go for it. If simply writing without too much thought of the story before you come up with it is the way you write best, go with that. Do what works for you, in other words, even if you’ve heard it many times before.

The next thing I like about King’s advice on writing was to not spend too much time with technique. I enjoy utilizing as much grammar technique as possible, however I do not always adhere to grammar rules as strictly as I would like. Use of the passive voice, colloquialisms, ect. many times are found in my rough drafts. I do not let these things keep me from the story, though, and King reminds us of what is most important when writing fiction. The story.

Many people who have written about “On Writing” mention Mr. King’s near death accident. The story is in the end of the book. He was hit by a vehicle while on a walk one day, nearly died, and was only half through with “On Writing”. Our hearts go out to Stephen King when we hear of his regaining of health after having most of his body shattered and finishing his memoir on writing. Long live the King, indeed.

King mentions his struggles as a young writer such as struggling to pay bills, even when he became an English teacher. Who would have ever guessed that the world’s most famous and respected horror author would be a down-to-Earth family man? I am not sure, however I have more respect for him after reading his honest accounts of his love for his wife, family, and writing. I also found his ideas on drug abuse inspiring. He declares that while many users may think that use helps their creativity, people write just as well without stimulants or sedatives or both. I agree. I may drink a coffee or vape sometimes, however I find participating in creative writing is best without the use of unhealthy substances. I am glad he decided to clean up his life and live in a healthy way, that he could say people write just as splendidly without stimulants/downers or other temptations.

To further explore reasons I liked “On Writing”, I must note that King mentions telepathy. We are not alone as humans; any religion considers the idea. He suggests good practices for choosing a good place to write and being okay with ‘listening’ while writing. He also mentions that he kept this book slim and tried to exercise some form of concision with his prose. In my opinion, he did an awesome job. I was able to read a few pages at night before going to bed and had the book finished, paying attention to its every word, in about 40 days (if I can do it, so can you). King mentions a Mississippi scribbler, John Grisham, as being found by his agent, Bill who set King up with Double Day many years ago. Many people think that part of what makes Grisham such a great author has to do with the ease in which we can read his work. I agree and think “On Writing” can be easily read.

“On Writing” gives references to a few dozen authors/books with explanations of their style and why to read them or how to compare them to what we may decide to write. King helps us consider what we are after with our writing and how to achieve success. He also includes two extensive book lists in the end of the version I read.

Early in the book, he mentions going to the movies and considering what was going on in the movie, as well as what could have happened to make the story even crazier or better. I think most people have a pretty creative mind, however part of King’s unique genius, other than his work ethic, is his ability to consider a good story and either stick with it or spice it up a little.

As far as real grammar lessons go, there are not many in “On Writing”. King does mention”Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition”, as well as Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”. He advises a cautious study of these texts, yet mentions that once you have learned enough grammar to write well, there is no need to waste your time with studying too much grammar. By saying this, he reminds us that the story itself is what is most important.

The first part of the book inspired my writing a tale upon reading a few things about Stephen King’s childhood. I put the book down and wrote out an outline, and wrote the story the next day. You can read it here. I also wrote down an outline for a novel with a protagonist and a bunch of monsters, however it may be a while before I get to writing it out, as I am working on some other works of fiction, currently. I’ve kept the outline with a few other novel ideas, nonetheless.

I conclusion I do recommend Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”, to be read by most authors, fans, and readers. It won’t give you nightmares, and though it is no new lesson in English, it will definitely inspire you as a fiction author. Stephen King spent a lifetime working hard and stayed dedicated to his goals as a family man and a writer. He did what was best for him and we should, too, so our reading audience will love and enjoy our work as creative artists and writing masters. What more could we ask for? I hope you enjoy reading “On Writing” as much as I and others have. As said by “Entertainment Weekly”, “Long live the King.”

A Pre-Release Prompt Intro

The Vape Place,

by Myles Stein

Note: This Story is not recommended for people under the age of 18.

“You kids should not smoke. It’s bad for you and people hate the smell of it,” said Professor Worther, from the math department. He passed by Amanda and Jen on his way to an important meeting. “I only smoke an average of seven cigarettes a day,” said Amanda. “Me, too,” said Jen. Jen was blonde. Amanda, brunette. They were outside of a large building donated to their university for the furthering of higher education. “Here we are, outside and not harming anyone, and we cannot even smoke a cigarette without a ‘health complaint,'” said Amanda.

“It is bad for you,” said Jen, “Even side-stream smoke kills thousands of Americans every year.” As she said this, she saw a few people using electronic cigarettes across the way, by one of their college’s cafeteria/lounge buildings. “Have you ever tried vaping?” asked Jen. “No,” said Amanda, “I have seen plenty of people do it; I know nothing about it. I wonder if it really ‘does the trick?'” …

The above two paragraphs are the beginning of an engaging story of two college students who take a summer off to start a new business. It will be in the second issue of “Oval Magazine” and is inspired from a prompt. Be sure to check out the entire publication, once it is released. It may not be complete for a few more weeks (February of 2016, hopefully), however it is sure to be an exciting, enjoyable read. 🙂

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Why Check Out Writer’s Digest and Goodreads?

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Recently, I sent a message on twitter to a famous author named R. A. Salvatore. I plan to read at least one of his books this year, as I somehow have not read any of his work, before. I sent him a friend’s request to communicate with him on goodreads.com. He said he already spends to much time on the web -I cannot imagine how involved an author of his status is with the web.

Nevertheless, I sent him a message recommending he at least check out goodreads.com and writersdigest.com. Goodreads is the platform for discussing books, finding books others have read, sharing discussions on books, and communicating with authors. For people like myself who have a book with sales under 10 copies and are working on writing more books, goodreads is like a double-cheese hamburger to a hungry American. Just ask Michael Sullivan or check out his Writer’s Digest article; he is a ‘Goodreads Master.’ People seeking to learn more about other authors or who are trying to promote their own work somehow should definitely get involved with goodreads.

Writer’s Digest is the source for all authors. The publication includes novel contests, ways to find agents, ways to find market listings for short stories, and books on writing. The books on writing are great for those with and without college degrees in English. Any author who visits writersdigest.com will find something of interest to them. For writers, like myself, who have not yet ‘surpassed the bell curve’ of becoming a full time author as a vocation, Writer’s Digest is a publication we should subscribe to, as its advice and information in regards to the business of writing is always priceless.

So, if you have never become involved with these two sites, at least check them out. Click on the two links to open a new tab in your browser and click on their tabs for at least a few minutes to see what they are all about. Goodreads is free, and writersdigest has plenty of free and interesting content. You learn even more if you subscribe to their publication and receive current articles on what is going on in the world of publishing. If for no other reason, view them to see what other authors are up to. I like to read what editors like Brian Klems and his colleagues have to say about writing and literary techniques. I just do not think the two sites are a waste of time.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope it was beneficial for all who have. To my new followers and those who have recently ‘liked’ a post, “Thank you.” Communicate with me by sending an e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We love feedback here.  🙂

A Day in January

Today has been a wonderful day. The breeze was cool, the sunlight beautiful. This year I am 40. My birthday was last Sunday, and I must say, I plan to live this year to its fullest. I am working on a fantasy novel for an hour or two each day I can, and it is coming along well. On goodreads, I have recently communicated with a few authors I knew, before, and have also encountered many others.

There exists a handful of books I cannot wait to read -have to make time for my writing, too, lest I risk not accomplishing what I hope a reader audience as well as myself will enjoy. I am currently reading a few pages of Stephen King’s “On Writing” every night before I turn in. I was hesitant to read the book, at first, as he is so well-known for horror. I decided to risk the endeavor, however, and have found that his advice on living and writing well are not scary yet valuable. About 170 pages into the book, it is coming along nicely.

It has occurred to me that, while I have studied many grammar books and have read plenty of classics and occasional best-sellers, not to mention a few novels by independent authors, I still have a lot of reading to do. The top ten fantasy/science fiction authors currently in the business have plenty of books available. I have not read 98% of these works, so I definitely have some reading to do.

I am of the mind that the mechanics of a great story involving mystical beings and adventure do not always have to be inspired from what contemporary authors have written, however it will be nice to have read more books once I have. The book I am working on may not even compare to the powerful juggernautic novels currently in the bestsellers lists, however I plan to do all I can for its final text to be something people of all ages will enjoy for many years to come.

To my new followers and people who follow jcm3blog, thank you for reading. I am always a big fan of my audience, as I hope it grows to be a group of admirable thinkers who enjoy reading my writing as much as I do. Study grammar for style – write with your heart. The world will love your every intriguing story. Anytime you would like to contact jcm3blog, send e-mail to admin@jcm3blog.com. We may be low on time, it is only because we try to use it wisely. God bless you and have a wonderful day. 🙂

Kindle Scout Votes

Ann Simpson is an amazing upcoming author. I enjoy reading and reviewing her work and hope others do, too. 🙂

Write Time Fiction

So, I’ve been introduced to Kindle Scout. I submitted my novel Save Nina and watched for 45 days, hoping I’d be selected for publication with Kindle Press. Eh, that didn’t happen, but I have happily published on December 19,2015 and received a five star review within a couple weeks from a new Goodreads friend, Ana Meyer the author of Marie and soon to be released James.

Back to Kindle Scout. I voted for 18 books.3 were chosen for publication and 2 are in review. Another 3 is still in campaign mode. I received a free copy of The Proving by Ken Brosky, because I voted for the book. 5 chapters in and I’m happy with my choice.

As soon as Solstice by Jane Redd and A Necessary Kill by James P Sumner is published I’ll receive copies, read them and leave a review at Goodreads and Amazon. The program is new and the…

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Sometimes They Do Not Make It

The school year was 75% complete. Young Steven and his brother Davie, two years older than him, were helping their mother unpack boxes after school. The three of them moved into their new apartment, recently, due to an explosion Davie accidentally caused in their old apartment. The boys and their mom were lucky to live through the experience unharmed.

“You guys are driving me crazy,” said their mother. “How?” asked Davie, “We are just doing what you told us.” “Well, for now, you guys can go outside and play. Be back before dark, and I’ll have dinner ready.” The boys did not attest to this and immediately made it to the door, closing it behind them politely, to hike three stories down.

“We don’t have a front yard; we have a sidewalk with a street,” observed Steven. “Let’s check out what’s behind back,” said Davie, “We may have the time to do some exploring.” Davie was in the 9th grade, Steven in the 7th. They ran around to behind the apartment building. It was a massive structure with twenty-one apartments. Each with four rooms, 2.5-baths, and made with light pink bricks. There was a small field and a wooded area nearby, also.

The boys marched right into the woods, the thin shade trees, sparse. After some time they found some railway tracks and stopped to rest. “I found an old rusty spike!” said Steven. “Just leave it alone,” said Davie, “There are probably a ton of them around here.” The two boys sat on a big square concrete block about twelve yards away from the tracks, wondering how often the train comes.

There was a small creek, just wide enough to scale, on the other side of the tracks. The creek ran parallel to the tracks. More woods and an overgrown field could be seen off to the left. Time slipped away gently. The boys talked about girls and school, tossing small pebbles into the creek across from the tracks. One small tossed pebble could make ‘circle ripples,’ which reflected overhung trees in an amazing way.

Little Davie was a child prodigy, just as Steven. Davie still had the ‘brains;’ however, and Steven was always aware of his older brother’s natural instincts. “It is going to get dark any minute,” said Davie, “We should go back.” As the two boys stood, they heard the distant sounds of a train coming. “A train!” exclaimed Steven, and as they looked down the tracks, they saw a large train was really on its way.

They waited until the engine passed them and watched its cars whiz by, one by one. “How fast do you think the train is going?” yelled Steven. “Probably about 30 mph,” replied Davie, “Let’s go.” They left the roaring train to make it back home before dark. The woods appeared simple enough, so their chances of getting lost were slim. It did not take them to long – they did not get lost. The two smelly lads cleaned up for dinner; ate Spaghetti; spoke politely with their mother; and bathed and went off to bed.

Saturday finally came around and the boys woke up before dawn to watch cartoons. Their mother woke up early and cooked a nice breakfast including pancakes, sausage, and milk. “I am going to the craft store today for some fabric and things,” said their mother, “I want you guys to be on your best behavior, and you cannot leave this apartment until your chores are done.” “We did extra chores yesterday,” said Davie, quietly, hoping they did not forget any common responsibilities. Steven looked to the ground, for this could mean more chores and less cartoons. Or worse. “Can we go to the craft store with you?” asked Davie. “You two had better not embarrass me,” said their mother. Excited, the two brothers got ready to go to the craft store.

Curiosity flowed through the two boys like seasonal joy. This part of town was an intriguing new world to them, even though the craft store, much larger than most average sized hardware stores, was only six blocks away. Once in the store, the brothers did what they could to stay out of trouble. Walking down every aisle, nothing seemed to be too much of a surprise. The artist’s aisle was super awesome, and Davie saw many things he did not know much about. Then, however, the boys found the model car aisle.

As amazing as it was, the model car boxes did not even compare to what they found toward the end of the aisle. The hobby-rocket section. Amazed, the two boys inspected every rocket, about forty in number. The largest rockets were huge, five-foot tall models that took “D” cell engines. Stickers on rockets requiring a “C” engine or larger stated, “Must be 18 or Older to Purchase.”

Davie noticed an interesting rocket, while Steven proceeded to pretend-launch a small rocket by hand into the air. He decided not throw it; however, and put it back quickly, as an older woman looked over her glasses from over forty feet away.

“This one comes with a deploying parachute,” said Davie. “Wow,” said Steven, “What is the remote control for?” Davie read the package and said, “This rocket has ‘Track Finder’ technology. The remote helps you find the small plastic astronaut and his parachute, once he explodes into the air far above ground level. The small figurine has a locator chip with a watch battery.” “Wow,” said Steven, “We’ll have to ask mom for it.”

They went and found their mother, who was making her fabric purchase before checking out a few other items. She went with the boys to see the hobby-rocket section. “I could not get you one of these today if I wanted to,” she said, “Unless you want this small one.” “We want the one with the track finder,” said Steven. “‘C’ cell engine,” said Davie, “It must be smaller than the ‘D’ cells.” “It’s marked 25% off,” said Steven, “$29.99 instead of the normal price of forty dollars.” “That’s another 25% off if the two of you can come up with $20,” said their mother. “Is that a promise?” asked Davie. “Sure,” she said. “Is that a double promise?” asked Steven, and asked, “How can we get the money?” “That is a double promise,” said their mother, “Maybe you can do some cleaning for the neighbors or a few things for allowance money.”

They made their way to the front of the store. Their mother finished making her purchases, and the boys did not mind not getting no thing whatsoever – they had goals, now. The following week the boys went out to the tracks to see if the train passed by everyday just before dark. It did.

“How are we going to come up with the money for that rocket?” asked Steven. “I don’t know,” said Davie, “All I have is the dime in my pocket. I’ll have to think of something.” “I wonder if the train would flatten the dime into a smooth silver streak on the rail?” asked Steven. “No,” said Davie, “The train will flatten the coin into an oval like a potato chip. I saw it in a Western.” “Can we try it?” asked Steven. “It’s no way to save money for a rocket,” said Davie, but he handed Steven the dime as they could see the train coming. Steven placed the dime heads up on the railroad track – the vibrations knocked it off twice. “Hurry,” said Davie, “The train is coming fast.

Steven placed the dime on the track one last time and it seemed to stay centered, tales up. He backed away in plenty of time to see the engine and 20 some-odd cars pass by – the boys even saw the caboose this time. They ran back up to the tracks, and the dime was gone. “Sheeze,” said Steven. He and Davie looked around for the dime; Davie found it a ways up the tracks. “Wow,” said Steven, “It does look like a potato chip!” “You can keep it,” said Davie. “Are you sure?” asked Steven. “Yeah,” said Davie, “You’re my little bro. Let’s go. It’s already getting dark.”

The two jogged back home, ate, bathed, said their prayers with their mother, and went off to bed. The next day Steven was in the lunch line, inspecting his amazing coin. “What’s that?” asked one of his student friends. “It’s a potato-chip dime,” said Steven. “What’s it worth?” asked another boy. “I don’t know,” said Steven, “Its my lucky potato chip coin.” “Can I see it?” said a girl. “Sure,” said Steven, and politely handed it to her. Amazed, the children studied the coin. “I’ll give you my lunch money for it,” said one of the boys, “Two dollars.” Steven would never take the offer, as the coin meant something to him, but he thought about the rocket. “Deal,” said Steven, and the boy handed him the two dollars for the potato chip dime. The girl took one last look at the coin and handed it to its purchaser.

Steven was now four dollars up and still about forty students back in the line from the cafeteria workers. As his new sidekick went to sit and inspect the coin incognito with some people already eating, Steven followed behind. “I’ll keep this four dollars,” thought Steven, “And I’ll get some more dimes.”

The idea was a fantastic one, indeed. Steven and his brother took the four dollars down the street that afternoon to the gas station. The teller would not change out their money for forty dimes, because they would need to make a purchase, first. “What if we let you keep two of the dimes?” asked Davie, and Steven laughed a little. He just could not guess the outcome of this proposition. “I’ll take it as a transaction,” said the old woman, playing along, “For these two dark green jawbreakers.” The boys were happy with the transaction and made it back home before dark, green tongued.

Their mother asked about their green tongues, and Davie said they got them from the gas station’s jawbreakers. With no further questions, the boys were in the clear. The three ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The following day the boys finished their homework. It was time for external activities. Both carrying a pocket full of dimes, they jogged all the way to the tracks to beat the train. The boys lined up all thirty eight dimes about two feet apart, eighteen on each rail. The train finally came along, and the boys gathered all but one of the dimes. It was getting dark, fast, and thirty-seven would have to do. On a mission, they returned home in an efficient manner.

Over the next few weeks, both of the boys sold the potato chip dimes to other students, making sure they (the other students) would keep it a secret so that the lunch money went unmentioned. Combined, they sold twenty-nine coins in ten days, and both brothers decided to keep four of the valuable potato-chip dimes. “How much does that add up to?” asked Steven, knowing Davie had already done the math. “$58,” said Davie, “Now all we have to do is give mom a story about how we got the money.” “That old man who sits by the gas station in front of the small convenience store, what if he bought us the rocket?” “Works for me,” said Davie, “We can split the change and speak with the old man when we see him.” They made it back as darkness settled in.

The next day, they finished their homework and went to the craft store and bought the rocket. Davie remembered the age requirement and kept quite; the teller was probably in high school; and she said nothing of the restriction label. The total was $32.24, so the boys had $25.76, or $12.88 a piece for piggy-bank savings. Davie let Steven carry the rocket home in a large sack. Their mother, astonished.

“And just how did you two manage that?” she asked. Davie said, “The old man by the store heard us talking about how we wanted the rocket so bad, and we could not figure out how to come up with the money. He did not have anyone in mind we could do chores for, but he bought it for us saying he would keep us in mind.” Their mother’s eyes immediately met with Steven‘s, whose face went pale. “That’s true,” he said. “Well that sure was nice of that man,” said their mom. They ate, cleaned, and went off to bed.

The next day was a Friday, so the boys would have to wait until the following day to try out the rocket. This did not stop Davie’s eagerness to read and learn, though. Upon finishing their homework, Davie and Steven opened the rocket box, keeping it intact, and Davie read the instructions. Steven, while playing with the little astronaut man, landed him on Davie‘s shoulder saying, “I have discovered the moon and have not a flag.” Davie grinned and continued to read.

The two eventually checked the contents of the box and even assembled most of the rocket. It was 2.5 feet tall and a little over an inch in diameter. It came with a firing fuse connected to a twelve-foot long wire. The wire connected to a push-button box. The rocket also came with its own stand and, of course, the remote control device. The device showed distance in tenths and hundredths of a mile and had a radar screen. Davie was concerned that batteries were not included. They were, yet they appeared to be some cheap ones.

The boys ate, cleaned, and went off to bed, as always, reading some before bedtime. Davie liked C. S. S. Lewis and Isaac Asimov; Steven liked monster stories; and their mother, Danielle Steel. Steven asked his mother why she preferred Danielle Steel as opposed to Nora Roberts one time, and he received no response. “Probably the writing style or plot development,” said Davie, “The two authors really are different in comparison.”

It was Saturday morning, and the boys were up with their rocket before dawn. “Where are we going to launch it?” asked Steven, “A football field?” “No,” said Davie, “We’ll take it to the tracks. With any luck, the wind will be blowing towards the field on the other side of the creek, left of the ‘Other-Side Woods.'” “Those woods are creepy,” said Steven. “They are more dense,” said Davie, “That is why. Those shadows are darker because the trees block out most of the sunlight, especially as dusk nears. We’ll have to take the rocket in sections to the tracks in the box, and reassemble it once we are in the field with the stand.”

“Not yet you won’t,” their mother said, as she walked into the kitchen, “I want these dishes done and the carpet vacuumed before you two go anywhere today, and I’ll make us some breakfast.” Their mother did well. She was a secretary for a law firm downtown. The two boys did their chores and cleaned their rooms in order to leave. She fed them a bologna sandwich and a coke, and they assembled most of the rocket by its instructions. Then, after making sure they could go outside, they began a journey to the tracks.

They made it there early in the afternoon. “The wind just so happens to be blowing in opposite direction of the Other-Side Woods,” said Davie, “We are in luck. Not a cloud in the sky.” The boys crossed the tracks, skillfully scaled the stream, and walked for a while through the field. They found a decent clearing in the wild grass and stopped. They got the rocket together as well as its stand, and Davie handed Steven the ignition button. Stupefied, Steven asked, “I just push the button?” “No,” said Davie, securing the rocket’s fuse wire in its engine before backing up a few steps, “I’ll count down from five to monitor the atmosphere. When I say ‘One, go,‘ then press the button.” “Okay,” said Steven, and he held his right index finger over the button watching the amazing rocket with a great deal of attention.

Davie licked his finger; held it in the air; and said, “Five,” as he felt the small breeze. Steven admired the silver flame decals on the rocket along with its shining gloss-black cover paint. The rocket also had four small fins glued to its mid-section, and four larger fins glued perfectly to its lower end. “Four,” said Davie, cautiously awaiting the breeze to die a little, seeing nothing much about the peaceful field but a bird or two flying around chasing gnats, a ways away. Steven beheld the magnificent rocket, just waiting to press the button. “Three. Two.” There was no reason to wait. “One…” said Davie, “Go!”

Steven pressed the button and the fuse in the engine of the rocket ignited. The engine’s powder began to combust, immediately, and the rocket burned an orange and purple flame to the ground, shooting up into the air, while leaving a white, streaming cloud of smoke beneath its path of travel. “Wow!” exclaimed Steven, backing up a few steps to see it decrease in size, as it climbed in altitude. “Will we see it explode the parachute?” asked Steven. “I think so,” said Davie, all eyes on the rocket, and so it did.

The children saw the rocket burst far above them, yet they could not see the parachuting astronaut figurine for a moment. Then, they thought they could see it for a second, floating away. His (the figurine’s) locator chip activated and working properly, Davie‘s remote locator with radar display functioned properly, too. The two children walked further into the field to find the rocket. They saw it fall about eighty yards away from where they launched it.

They made it to the vicinity of the fallen rocket and Steven found it. “How far away is the astronaut?” asked Steven. Davie held his radar box in his right hand and pointed off to the left with his left hand, in about a 280˚ angle. “By the looks of this radar, he is 2.5 miles in that direction and may still be falling or in a tree,” said Davie. As he pointed into the far distance, they could see far down the tracks. The train was coming. “Let’s go back,” said Davie, “We’ll have to go find the astronaut tomorrow.” Steven handed Davie the rocket; they jogged back to the stand and got it; and ran to the tracks and crossed back over, safely. The train was still coming, so they put the rocket back in the box as they awaited its passing.

“Cannot we watch the train pass by?” asked Steven, “I want to count the cars.” It was starting to get dark, yet Davie said, “Okay.” The train blew its deep-sounding horn, and the boys counted exactly twenty-two cars, including the enormous front engine, twenty boxcars, and its caboose, from over twelve feet from the tracks. The cabooses were always highly similar, yet not the same caboose every time. Steven volunteered to carry the box, and they made their way back.

Upon entering the woods, the sun had nearly fallen completely. Though remnants of sunlight were still aglow, nighttime shadows were among the trees. “Let’s pick it up,” said Davie, and the boys steadied their jog. Halfway through the woods, the two boys were making good time. So long as it was not pitch black outside, their mother would not be too disappointed.

Suddenly, Davie grabbed Steven bringing them both to a near halt. He instinctively put his hand over Steven’s mouth and pointed to about thirty yards in front of them, in about a 25˚ angle. Steven could not see him at first, then flushed pale. “Is that a ghost?” whispered Steven. “I am not sure,” said Davie, “We could just jog by him; however, I think he’s watching us.” “We are in the middle of the woods,” said Steven. “We’ll just walk by him and leave him be,” said Davie, thinking it was about the best they could do.

“No need to walk by me,” said the figure, standing right before them, suddenly. The man’s presence nearly scared Davie, totally, yet he kept his bravery to protect his brother. “Who are you?” asked Steven, courageously, sensing the figure may not be of harm to them. “I am Death,” said the tall, handsome man. The man gleamed in the shadows of dusk. A pastel and purple and white gleam, much like an angel. “We must be getting back, kind sir,” said Davie. “Oh sure,” said Death, “I know your mother is waiting. There is something you may want to know, though.” “Which is?” asked Steven. “There is a homeless man down by the tracks, about twenty feet from the other side of where you guys crossed over before shooting off your awesome rocket. He has only moments to live. That is why I am here.” “What can we do?” asked Davie. “If you manage to get a glass of water to him before he passes, he may be able to make it.”

The three ran to the apartment complex and Death waited outside. Steven brought the box to his room, and Davie hurried to get a glass of water while their mother was taking a bath. The two left and met up with Death. They jogged all the way back to the tracks by moonlight and found the dying man as he lay a ways away from the tracks on his back. Davie checked his pulse while Steven tried to get the man to drink some water. The man had a pulse, yet Steven had to open his mouth gently to pour in some water.

The plan did not go so well. The man’s eyes closed; he breathed a slight breath; though the man swallowed no water. Steven gently closed the man’s mouth. The man died. Davie and Steven backed away from the corpse as the old man’s flesh flushed pale. The man’s spirit rose from his body, eyes still closed, and he as he slightly opened his eyes, beheld the presence of Death. At first his draw began to drop; however, the old man figured out upon whom he was gazing. Death held out his hand, and the homeless man took his hand.

The boys watched as Death and the ghost of a homeless man walked hand in hand down the railroad tracks, towards a fully-waxed, pale, lime-white moon. Steven wondered why they were not able to save the old man and wished the man had swallowed the water. Death turned and spoke over his shoulder, “At least you tried, Steven,” and the two men carried on. There appeared to be a form of a doorway a long ways down the tracks. “Let’s go,” said Davie. “What about the body?” asked Steven. “We’ll tell mom he’s here,” said Davie, and the two made their way back into the dark woods.

Upon entering the apartment their mother was in the kitchen organizing things. Steven looked to Davie who indicated approval of speech. “Mom,” said Steven, before she could ask them anything, “We found a dead man down by the train tracks.” Their mother called the authorities. The authorities found the man and asked the children a few questions, which Davie answered with grace. The man received a proper burial, was in the obituaries of the town paper.

The boys waited about a week before they went back to the tracks to find their astronaut figurine. It took them some time and hiking to get to it; however, with a deal of effort and a smidgen of luck, Davie was able to locate the little man and his parachute in a tree. They climbed up into the tree, acquired the figurine; and brought it back home, all before dark. The, though somber, still, ate, cleaned, and read for a while before turning in.

Brief Afterward

The story above was inspired from the first part of Stephen King’s book, “On Writing”. If he reads this story, I hope he enjoys it, as I could not resist writing out this idea. I finished reading his book and gave it a review, which can be found on jcm3blog I found his book to be a suitable collection of prose. I would have waited to write this story upon my completion of the book, however the story came to me and I just did not want to put it off or forget it, lest it were to never exist. We all know of those thousands of ideas we have that may never make it to paper; I usually write the best ones of my mind as outlines in a notebook. Learn more about Stephen King on stephenking.com (which the diamond above links to) or by clicking on the double-diamonds below for his page on wikipedia. I enjoyed this story and hope all who read it do, too. Indeed, “Long live the King.” 🙂

A Review for Christopher Fielden’s Book on Publishing Stories

Book Review for “How to Write a … Story Get Published and Make Money,

by Christopher Fielden,

Over All Book Review

Introduction

Upon receiving a copy of this book I thankfully turned a few pages of it every night before bedtime. Mr. Fielden describes how to write outside of work as one aspires to pursue writing as a career. He holds an annual story contest online, “To Hull and Back,” and lists many web links within the pages of “How to Write… ” for submitting stories to story contests and literary periodicals for publication.

A wonderful read, there are also many story examples Mr. Fielden includes. With each story example, he explains how the story was published, whether he chose to re-write the story; and why and how revisions were necessary for better success with publication. If you are learning to write stories for publication, this is an excellent book to read. It is also straightforward enough to be able to be read in a relatively small amount of time, as opposed to other books of the same nature that are not as down-to-Earth or as easy to understand. I enjoyed reading this book and hope you do, too.

List of Story Titles

  • “Devil’s Crush,” page 26
  • “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” page 55
  • “Troll’s Head,” page 83
  • “The Treasure No Thief Can Steal,” page 101
  • “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” page 119
  • “Mr. Kill,” page 137
  • “The El Passo Phantom Feeder,” page 155
  • “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman,” page 169
  • “Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” page 189
  • “The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle,” page 207
  • “Napalm Rising,” page 226
  • “Love is Difficult for Zombies,” page 242
  • “Love of the Dark,” page 245
  • “I am the Warlock,” page 273
  • “Hummingbee Bumblebird Meadow,” page 310
  • “Oleg OG – Cyber Spider,” page 317

Some Thoughts on the Stories

Much to the respect of their author, many of these stories were re-worked into undue perfection. Their quality was enhanced upon their review by other writers, editors, and readers, allowing them to be beneficial examples for use and discussion within the text of Mr. Fielden’s book on writing and publishing stories. I will mention each story and a few thoughts on them, briefly.

“The Devil’s Crush” is the first story in the book and it was an awesome fiction story about a man with no legs and a fire-burning demon. The next story, “The Day My Prayers were Answered,” was about a man in debt, who encountered an Incubus. The story was well written and revised with more than one ending before its final draft and a wonderful story to consider. Every story mentioned within this review was astounding, so I will attempt to not say so in a redundant fashion, even though I enjoyed most of the stories a great deal.

“Trolls Head” was a story about Trolls fighting in an arena much like entertainment in times of Rome. I felt as though more could have been said about the descriptions of the characters during the first of the story, as well as the setting. Such a good idea just seemed to need a few more sentences to further paint the mental images I drew out anyway, in my mind. Some of the characters in this story properly use a limited style of dialogue. I did and did not like the dialogue, however it was well done. I would have also liked a more developed ending, though the conclusion did do a good job of pulling introduced ideas together in efficient summary. All in all the story was a great example of ‘showing’ rather than telling, albeit the idea a cliché obstacle for some.

“The Treasure No Thief Can Steal” was about a man-eating dragon who allowed a female protagonist to live. It was a profound example of a fantasy story. “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo and the Secret of Whispering Wood,” is both a story and a well-written children’s poem. I liked the story so much I re-read it a few times and sang a little song in my head, too… “Smoo Choo the Magic Moo, he flies to save the forest. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo; he flies to end the forest fires for me and you. Smoo Choo, the Magic Moo, for without him what could we do?” I am sure the poem touches the hearts of all who read it.

“Mr. Kill” is an interesting story that uses what I think of as a ‘looping structure,’ where the story ends with the beginning occurring again. This technique is great, so long as the idea behind the story suffices for its use. Though seemingly complicated, the story was entertaining and thought provocative. It is about a doctor who does not save a worm and becomes a worm. Seemingly boring by the previous statement, the story itself is not.

“The El Passo Phantom Feeder” was a great story about the owner of a bar and his perils on a rainy night with attackers, a pretty young woman, and a man-eating phantom –one of my favorites. “The Cat, the Bull and the Madman” was an excellent story and quit worth the read for those of us who have at some point considered psychology. It was with great skill that this story used ‘imaginery’ characters without explaining why they were there then were not. These notions are covered in the discussion following the story.

“Shot in the Head and Left for Dead,” is a story about a rock and roll singer and includes fantastical beast creatures. As Mr. Fielden knows about rock and roll bands and is a drummer, this story was a good example of how well a story can be done when it is written about something the author knows a great deal of. Plenty of writers advise us to write about what we know about. While true, I usually back up my own ideas with research.

“The Ninja Zombie Knitting Circle” is a story well worth its read. If this story was made into a movie, I would be sure to watch it, as plenty of things leave its reader in suspense until its horrifying conclusion. Well done.

“Napalm Rising” is an intense story about a man who interrogates a captive in order to go and rescue his daughter from a dangerous brothel run by armed ex-military criminals. Upon finishing this story, I thought it would be a good idea for the author to write a sequel involving the main character getting caught for his actions when rescuing his daughter. The man could have also been released for reasons due to insanity, as his daughter was in such a tough situation. If a second story is written to follow up with this story in such a manner, I hope it receives publication and that I come across it, somehow.

“Love is Difficult for Zombies” is a story which is only 81 words long. I liked the other stories more, however a story of this nature does take talent and consideration to construct and was well worth its discussion in the book. There exist numerous competitions on the web for stories about 100 words long, and, as with poems, these stories hold their value when they impress their readers (they also hold their value if you win a competition with one).

“Love of the Dark” is an enchanting and story about a woman who escapes a cave with a talking spider. It holds the necessary rules which define a story. It is a pleasant cuddly one.

“I am the Warlock,” was a great example for this book, as its revision was discussed well. I also enjoyed the story itself and the manner in which things occurred. Use of both human characters and those of magical conjuring is impressive, and this story was both fun to read and to consider from a literary, critical point of view.

“Humblebee Bumblebird Meadow,” is a great bedtime story for reading to children and moving, as it paints an emotion invoking sunset. I was near ‘crushed’ with the ending. As powerful as the story was, I wondered if even more description could be added for the sunset scenery.

“Oleg OG Cyber Spider” was a nicely constructed story and a great example. The protagonist suffers a near-death experience, and the story is much like a story within a story. Christopher Fielden is an amazing author, indeed.

Some Notions on Mentioned Techniques

Mr. Fielden includes real advice on useful techniques with getting stories published for payment. He covers such notions as market research, marketing techniques, and conducting the necessary research involved with a specific publication. He even tells us how to communicate with editors or literary publication groups appropriately.

Throughout the text, the author mentions various techniques and how to use them when working with a new story. These techniques and topics, in their near entirety are included in a list as follows:

  • reading, writing practice, market research, story development, story revision for completion, using constructive criticism, story submitting, story publication methods, story marketing, and making money with writing with realistic expectations
  • Christopher Fielden website story contest advice and writing/editing help
  • basic story construction notions
  • writing group advice
  • thoughts on encouragement and finding writing competitions
  • editorial criticism
  • character naming and choice of voice
  • writing advice along with stories
  • subplotting with characters
  • thoughts on the children’s stories market
  • discussion of techniques with proper use of dialogue
  • use of a central character/protagonist
  • use of humor and advice on ending stories well
  • plot twists
  • how to make time for writing
  • submission advice
  • does and don’ts of constructing a beneficial author biography
  • choice of publication opportunities
  • double/multiple publication endeavors
  • advice on healthy living to be productive
  • author website advice and advertising with Google for money
  • links to writing for publication included, including advice for publishing independently
  • entire section attributed by Dr. John Yeoman on winning story competitions

In addition to the links in Mr. Fielden’s book, remember to check out writersdigest.com for many of your needs as an author. The statement is not meant to be an advertisement, but a recommendation for all writers who may or may not have already considered the resources of Writer’s Digest. There, you can find new markets, writing competitions, techniques for writing better, and much more.

Criticism

The stories included, though fun and enjoyable to read, are included for the purpose of learning to publish stories for payment. Some basic notions including literary devices within a simple guideline or discussion of basic story techniques, such as plot, character development, scene development, theme, rising and falling action, climax, narrative hook, and symbol are not covered in an appendix or separate chapter, which I would have liked to have seen. Many literary devices and techniques are discussed within the text, however, which somehow adds to the flow of the book, as mentioned above. Many people who write stories have already learned the reasons to use these various techniques from writing classes or reading, so it is not too big of a deal that some basic notions on writing are not covered in a chapter separate from the rest of the text.

As the book’s purpose is mostly to learn to do better with story contests for publication and payment, the advice Mr. Fielden provides is very beneficial, as it comes entirely from experience. Mr. Fielden resides in the UK, where his writing group is. Many of the links mentioned within his book are United Kingdom based. Some readers in the United States or other countries may have wanted to see more information on the contests outside of the UK, as well as the websites and companies mostly in the US who make publishing stories for payment possible, too. This is not a real major drawback to the book, however, as many of the contests mentioned are online and may not be as impossible to receive publication by as high-volume publications in the US. Google is mentioned, and writers all over the world should not have too much of a problem with publishing via enterprises in the UK.

These things being said, I do recommend the book for anyone who is learning to publish stories or wants some additional hope in regards to writing as a career. The book does contain a uniqueness to it, as Mr. Fielden explains each story and goes into detail about the reasons the stories made it to publication or not, depending on situations. Writing as a career does not come easy for some, and this book uses real world examples of how someone overcame certain challenges to not only to receive publication for payment, but also to share the methods and techniques of doing so with others.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I really enjoyed reading this book. I have plenty of books I am waiting to read, and I simply could not wait to read a few pages of this one every night before bedtime. Some of the stories may not be suitable for children, however they are well-written. As far as how beneficial this book is for people beginning to write and publish stories, it is well worth the time to read it. I enjoyed each story and hope you do, too. Thank you for reading this review; the book can be found here on Amazon, and here on Mr. Fielden’s website.

 

pb1 pb2

These two photos are very similar.  As I am not very good with photography, yet, I still wanted to share these two images.  When I began blogging, over a year ago, one of my most favorite blogs was Prairie Views, and still is.  I love to grow pumpkin flowers, as usually anything else I try to grow dies within an 8 week time frame.  I have never properly pollinated a pumpkin flower, however they are sure pretty when they grow to be large and yellow-orange.

The two plants with many leaves are Purple Basil plants, which have doubled in height in the past 9 weeks or so.  The little baby seedling in the bottom of the photo is a sturdy pumpkin sprout I germinated and planted around 10.28.15.  Its roots have already grown outside of its container, so I am sure the seedling will grow to be a tall, healthy vine with flowers.  Will it be pollinated?  I am not sure.  If it lives to make flowers, I may try to pollinate them, even though my past attempts with pollination were of no success. The flowers are nice once in full bloom.

As for the Purple Basil, I am not sure what I plan to do with it, as I did not think it would live this long.  If it lives two years, I will probably give it to a trusted gardener, upon finding one.  Thank you for visiting jcm3blog.com – a great place to discuss astounding short fiction.  Thank you, too, for your understanding in regards to the quality of these photos – I hope you enjoy them. 🙂

Purple Basil and Baby Pumpkin