Wednesday, June 2, 2021

How I Write: Interview by Writers 4 All Seasons

In honor of getting "War of the Murder Hornets" published in volume 8 of Strangely Funny, my local critique group Writers 4 All Seasons offered to interview me about my process. Here's the clip:

 


Excerpt:

4. Who are some of your favorite short story writers, living or deceased?

I loved reading Ray Bradbury when I was in my pre-teens. I've found compared to some of the other short story writers that I enjoy Bradbury's character developments. He had an economy of style, as though he used exactly the right words to describe scenery and people. He had a rather vivid and also macabre imagination: Bradbury may have been classed as a fantasy/science fiction author but a lot of his short stories were darker and more horrific than anything Stephen King produced...

I also wanted to meet Bradbury to tell him about how when I was younger I was in a middle school story contest where the Second Place winner had plagiarized one of his stories, so I wanted to let him know he only got Second Place among eighth graders, alas... ;-)


Monday, May 31, 2021

Just Released: Strangely Funny VIII Available in Print and Kindle!

Ahhh yeah, volume VIII is officially released!


You can purchase a print copy or you can purchase the eBook Kindle version!

MANY THANKS to the editors Sarah and Gwen for choosing a line from my "War of the Murder Hornets" story as the quote blurb to help sell the anthology! 

"Just want to let you know, so far we’ve got two of the drafted volunteers reporting sick to the base doctor with severe cases of Aw Hell Naw."

-- Paul Wartenberg, "War of the Murder Hornets"

Squeeeee!!!

PLEASE do get a copy, the stories from this series are worth the read, and PLEASE leave a good review for us, I do hope you enjoy our twisted tales.


Thursday, May 20, 2021

If I'm Going To Podcast, I'm Going To Need to Learn

A project in the planning at my workplace, still hush-hush, requires knowing how things like podcasts get made.

So if I gotta learn about podcasts, then I gotta listen to podcasts.

So I'm out here looking at a few worth following, and one of the earliest ones I've spotted is this Drunk Librarians, who seem to do book discussions while... um... encouraged by the finest libations a librarian can liberate from a winery.

(I have known many a librarian appreciate a fine wine or twelve. Just not me, I never developed a smell for wine, apologies)

Anyway, I'll be checking that one out, and I'll mention other podcasts of interest when I find them.

When I start up a podcast to see how I'm faring, I'll share the link here.

 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mama Cat Ocean in 2021

To anyone who adopted kittens by the names of Inara, Jayne, Zoey, River, and Simon in Polk County back in 2014, please let them know that mama Ocean the Wiggle Cat is still wiggling and meowing and griping and asking for head rubs.



Happy Mother's Day, Ocean!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

May The 4th Be With You this 2021

Due to Disney Plus, streaming services in dire need of fresh content, a growing comic book and print book industry of YA and adult materials, and an eager audience of Star Wars fandom spreading across three generations now, May the 4th is just about as official a national holiday as anything else.

It has helped somewhat during this pandemic to have our stories and our shows comfort us, to bring us light forth from the darkness.

They made a big deal today about releasing a new animated series The Bad Batch about the aftermath of Order 66. We've got a book series about the sunny days of the grand Republic, before its fall into war and chaos.

But let us not talk of heartbreak and the loss of hope during the Dark Times of the Empire.

Let us talk about BABY YODA!!!


ALL IS GOOD WITH THE FORCE AS AHSOKA IS BACK!


AND IF WE'RE REAL NICE THEY MIGHT LET THE FANS GOFUNDME A REMAKE OF EPISODE 9 TO FIX GLARING CONTINUITY ERRORS AND A BETTER ENDING.

...Yeah, that still hurts, I do need to issue a review of that when I can calm down.

Anyway, MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU!!!



Tuesday, April 6, 2021

National Library Week 2021

April 5 through April 10 is National Library Week!


Take the time to visit a library - PLEASE WEAR A MASK INSIDE A LIBRARY AT ALL TIMES - and check out what you like - BOOKS ARE GOOD, WE GOT A BUNCH ON HAND - and support literacy and community resources to the full - WE MIGHT BE NEAR DOG PARKS, YOU NEVER KNOW.

In the meantime, see if you can spot a fool in this crowd:

I know I overdo the arched eyebrow thingee

NOW GO READ! We'll see you in the summer when our family events take place.


 

Friday, March 26, 2021

A Lifetime of Writing For Children, Who Became All Of Us: Beverly Cleary Wrote For Us

This is the kind of news a librarian and childhood reader does not want to hear. Beloved writer Beverly Cleary finally passed away this weekend (via Zoe Chace at NPR): 

Children's author Beverly Cleary died Thursday in Carmel, Calif., her publisher HarperCollins said. She was 104 years old. Cleary was the creator of some of the most authentic characters in children's literature — Henry Huggins, Ralph S. Mouse and the irascible Ramona Quimby.

Generations of readers tore around the playground, learned to write in cursive, rebelled against tuna fish sandwiches and acquired all the glorious scrapes and bruises of childhood right along with Ramona...

Her writing style — clear, direct, uncomplicated — mirrored the author's own trajectory. Cleary was still a young girl when she decided to become a children's book author. By the 1940s she'd become a children's librarian in Portland, Ore., and she remembered boys in particular would ask her: "Where are the books about kids like us?"

There weren't any, so she sat down and wrote Henry Huggins, her first book about a regular little boy on Klickitat Street in Portland. Henry Huggins was a hit upon first printing, but her readers wanted to hear more about the little girl who lived just up the street.

Ramona Quimby, the most famous of all of Cleary's characters, was unforgettable. Mischievous, spunky and a hater of spelling, Ramona would be the first to tell you she's not a pest — no matter what anyone (especially her older sister Beezus) says...

I read Cleary as a youth, around seven or eight years old, after my family moved to Florida and we went to Dunedin Public Library pretty much once every week. It started with Henry Huggins but moved onto Ramona where even as a boy reader the angst and issues for girl characters echoed a lot of the drama and anxiety of childhood itself.

Along with Judy Blume - with Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing anchoring the Fudge series - Cleary was one of the few authors I read who seemed to write FOR children, not to us (in terms of lecturing and preaching). The moral life lessons of her works - in the Ramona series, often odes to the strengths of family and sisterhood - offered in subtle yet recognizable moments.

I think I quoted on this before, but let me quote here from Kate Dries at Jezebel about Cleary's importance and influence:

As an adult, I remember far more of Cleary’s descriptions of the life that influenced her children’s books than the actual fiction she wrote—stories about how she hates the taste of almond extract because it’s all they had to make desserts with during the Depression, or how eating a whole avocado every day from the tree outside her window in college caused her weight to bloom, or what she and her friends asked of each other’s clothes during the lean years: “Is it new, or new to you?”

Cleary’s writing is always matter-of-fact, observant without being unkind. In her limited first-person work, she’s evaluative of herself perhaps more than anyone else, and she allows certain undertones that are mostly absent from her children’s books to creep in...

Remember, as Cleary does, it would be years before “the labels ‘teenager’ and ‘young adult’” would even be used regularly. Back then, to look at young people this way, you had to be extraordinarily interested in understanding the emotional states of an age group that was almost always overlooked. Cleary did; she had a firm grasp of the reality that children have complex inner lives, and this sensibility made her books break through...

That emphasis on writing simply and about life’s minutiae explains why Cleary’s fictionalization of her normal if sometimes difficult life has been so embraced. “For years I avoided writing description, and children told me they liked my books, ‘because there isn’t any description in them,’” she said of her simple style, influenced (perhaps negatively in her mind, though not in anyone else’s) by a teacher who was overzealous with the red pen early on. Her characters are flawed but not overly dramatic: average, but interesting because of it, you might say (or in other words, realistic). Upon reading her memoirs, you can see the specific and broad bits of real life Cleary did use in her books—the “Smells to Heaven” casserole that her friend’s mother served that Jane won’t eat before a date in Fifteen for fear she’ll ruin her breath, or the comfortable home she didn’t have growing up run by Bernadette’s less-involved mother in Mitch and Amy...

Cleary described how her writing mentor encouraged her to pursue writing about 'the universal human experience,' the shared hopes and despairs that we all feel when we're young and curious and worried and envious and learning how to cope. As a writer herself, she gave us characters and stories that showed us how to cope, and we all grew up under her care.

She is one of the reasons I enjoyed visiting libraries. It wasn't until I was a librarian myself in my 30s when I found out Cleary was a children's librarian from Yakima WA when she started writing her stories for her youthful patrons.

Cleary should have won a Nobel Prize for Literature, goddammit.

I am deep in mourning tonight. My childhood physically ended a long time ago, but emotionally and spiritually that childhood stayed with me. A part of that is gone now.