Caution: WRITING IN PROGRESS

I’ve narrowed the list of several writing projects to 3. The goal is to work on all three projects simultaneously.
Won‘t that be a hoot!
One will be a script.
One will be a novella, a romance.
And the last will be a thriller.
How am I going to do this and promote and blog and spend quality time with my wife?
I don’t know!
But I will do it.
And I will make regular updates on Twitter and here on my blog…
I will take Wednesday and Thursday off. Those are the days my wife is off work.
So wish me luck…
Follow me on my journey!
Much love and respect… CMA

And here we go…..Lessons learned, and still learning about self-publishing, and self-promotion.

Well, I have learned a lot from self-publishing my first book to Kindle. One: never rush to get it online. I learned after I published the EBook and downloading the contents I noticed several spacing errors and other technical issues I hadn’t noticed when formatting it on KDP Create. So I’ve been busy attempting to work on those issues, by removing the book off the site and republishing. However, I still have not seen the changes from my copy which Amazon FAQ states may take up to 72 hours. Then it also states if you changed the content you have to inform Amazon to send an update to any customer who has downloaded the book so I’ve done that too.

I am learning as I go, basically. I have been also learning the process of self-promoting. Having worked as a talent coordinator in the past and using various social media platforms, I know my way around those sites and hashtags etc. I’ve also connected with many other authors on Twitter and love being a part of this community; social media is only one step of the promoting process.

I’ve created this blog here on Word Press. And I like how easy it is to use, and it’s user-friendly, and the cost isn’t too much, especially if you are just getting started and have several works in progress that eventually I hope to publish and having this up and running and establishing myself online is getting ahead of the game.

I’ve also invested in ProWritingAid, an editing platform to help me as I write to aid in editing. I haven’t used it yet, but plan to use it soon.

I’ve also found this interesting site https://kindlepreneur.com/list-sites-promote-free-amazon-books/ that suggests great ways to aid in promoting your book. Most I have used have been free, but I may end up using a paid for promotion, most likely with Whizbuzz.

One thing I’ve learned is that paying for advertising through sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, is that they offer exposure, but in most cases will lead to “likes” and “retweets”, but not to actual clicks on the link to the book you’re promoting. So those are platforms I won’t use again as far as paid advertisements.

And because I’ve still not decided whether I will continue the self-publishing route versus the traditional route I’ve renewed my subscription to the Writer’s Market.

Out of the three most popular social media sites, I have found Twitter’s #writerscommunity to be the best of the best. Facebook just has too many bots and I don’t really find it useful. Instagram is still a good way to promote, but I suggest creating images using platforms such as PicsArt and other tools that create visceral images that will appeal to casual scrollers.

So I’m learning these lessons as I go, and I hope it will prepare me for my next few projects.

Much love and respect to all of you in the Writing Community for all the support and inspiration to keep writing..CMA

Essay: “If I Were Tickled By The Rub of Love” by Dylan Thomas

“If I were tickled by the rub of love”, by Dylan Thomas is as difficult to interpret like Picasso’s “Femme a la Fleur”. In fact, many of Thomas’s poems have incited both “praise and condemnation” from critics” (Cox 2). However, the aforementioned poem is not the ramblings of a babbling trickster attempting to dupe his audience by breaking the established rules of language. For Thomas would interpolate:

I am a painstaking, conscientious, involved, and devious craftsman in words, however unsuccessful the result so often appears, and to whatever wrong uses I may apply my technical paraphernalia. I use everything and anything to make my poems work and move in the direction I want them to: old tricks, new tricks, puns, portmanteau-words, paradox, allusion, paronomasia, paragram, catachresis, slang, assonantal rhymes, vowel rhymes, [and] sprung rhythm. Every device there is in language is there to be used if you will (qtd.in McKay 376).

This particular poem has been described as “deal[ing] with love and life as seen at birth, infancy, adolescence, and young maturity (Halperen 25). John Yow also believes that “In the opening stanza the images apparently focus upon the moment of birth, both in general terms and in reference to the speaker’s own birth” (30). However, this is not a correct analysis, at least not in the sense that Thomas is speaking of his own birth. William Tindall, who Halperen agrees, implies, “the speaker, [Thomas], a ghost or a pre-natal virus, knows neither the delights nor the troubles of love,” going on to say that Thomas is writing as if he is “Not altogether alive” (46). After closer examination of stanzas 1, 2, and 3, it is obvious that Thomas has not taken us back into the womb, but begins the poem as a young man frightened by the thought of war, having his heart broken, and most of all, he is sorely afraid of dying.

“If I were tickled by the rub of love”, was published in December 1934, in a compilation titled, 18 Poems, apropos of “creation, both physical and poetic, and the temporal process of birth, death, and rebirth” (Tindall 27). The poems in this publication were written during the early 30s around the same time that Hitler became both president and chancellor of Germany, wherewith the military was obligated to swear allegiance to the self-proclaimed der Führer. Thomas also began corresponding with Pamela Hansford Johnson in 1933. Johnson first wrote to Thomas wanting advice concerning her own poetry after reading “That sanity be kept,” and there “became a love affair after they met in February 1934” (Ferris 20). Thomas was also aware of his inadequacies as a writer:

I’m an odd little person. Don’t imagine the great jawed writer brooding over his latest masterpiece in the oak study, but a thin, curly little person, smoking too [many] cigarettes, with a crocked lung, and writing his vague verses in the back room of my provincial villa (qtd. in Ferris 27).

Thus, between the ages of nineteen and twenty, Thomas clearly is affected by the “fear of impending war, sexual experience, and literary failure” (Tindall 27).

Throughout the poem, Thomas is “using fixed stanzas with intricate rhyme and metrical schemes” (McKay 375). It is written in syllabic form, with seven stanzas, consisting of seven lines in each. Stanzas 1, 2, 4, 5, and 7, have the following numbers: 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, 10, and 6. The poem resembles blank verse, popularized by Shakespeare and Milton, because most lines are pentameters, or five metrical feet, and the verses do not end in rhymes. However, stanzas 3 and 6 are written with the following syllables: 11, 10, 10, 11, 10, 10, and 6. Stanzas 3 and 6 separate stanzas 1 and 2, from stanzas 4 and 5, seemingly used by Thomas as a refrain, and stanza 7 being a conclusion or summary. It does appear that Thomas makes use of consonance in stanzas 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6. The final words in lines 3 and 7 of the corresponding stanzas, Thomas uses the words: string/spring, hair/war, love/grave, jaws/toes, and eye/away. In the poem, “A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London, Thomas writes:

Tells with silence the last light breaking (4). Thomas uses the word “Tells” as a transitive verb, to describe “darkness told in some divine sense of spoke into being, ‘the last light breaking’” (Carson 241). In “If I were tickled by the rub of love,” transitive verbs used in lines five of stanzas 1, 2, 3, and 4, are mirrored purposely by the poet. For example, in line 5 of stanza 1, Thomas writes, “Still set to scratch a laughter from my lung,” and in the second stanza, line 5, Thomas writes, “The itch of man upon the baby’s thigh.”

Each stanza tells of Thomas’s life, not from his own birth, as Halperen, Tindall, or Yow suggests. Instead, the poem begins with the poet as a young mature man. In the first lines of the poem, Thomas is saying, “If I were tickled,” or if I were easily excited or amused, “by the rub of love,” rub in this verse taking on the meaning of spark. Restricted by the strict form of ten syllables, if one were to add the word “by” in front of the second verse, “A rooking girl”, or manipulative girl, “who stole me for her side,” it is evident that Thomas is not drawing upon his own birth, but he explaining why it is difficult to fall in love. Reading the next line tells more of Thomas’s reservations: “Broke through her straws,” the girl from the previous line, breaks through her straws; straws meaning shyness perhaps, and thereby breaking his bandaged string; the broken string invoking the image of being previously broken-hearted either by “lover, mother, lovers,” (41) and he has since forbade himself from falling in love by forging a barrier (string), that keeps him from being hurt again. Thomas does speak of birth, similar to the proposition by both Halperen and Tindall, but not exactly the same. Thomas writes, “If the red tickle as the cattle calve” (line 4). Red seemingly makes little sense in this verse until one knows that Thomas once explained to an editor that he: Once looked up an old dictionary and found [ram] meant red, but now [Thomas] can’t find it in any dictionary at all. [Thomas] wanted ram in the poem to mean red and male and horny and driving and all its usual meanings, (qtd. in McKay xiv).

If one were to postulate that in this verse red means ram, and ram is synonymous with a driving force; in this instance, the driving force is the feeling of being born again. In other words, Thomas is saying: if only love was like a driving force (ram), and stimulating (tickled), as the cattle calve (being born again).

The act of being born is described in the second stanza. Again, Thomas is not explaining his own birth, but instead he has moved forward till after he has settled down with the “rooking girl” and contemplates having a child. Thomas writes in the second stanza:

Shall it be male or female say the cells, And drop the plum like fire from the flesh (8-9).

The first line is explaining the act of copulation or perhaps insemination. The second line is the actual birth of the child. In the third stanza, line 18, he says “If I were tickled by the urchin hungers” urchin representing a poor or hungry child, perhaps in this way because of the negative consequences of war, Thomas moves into the stage of adolescence, but not his own, but that of his child, and he expressing grief of watching his child grow up, same as in his poem “In Country Sleep.” This poem “is striking for its frank portrayal of a caring though conflicted state of fatherhood,” and:

is a far more arresting and complex treatment involving a loving fathers deep, oedipally colored attachment to his daughter and his concern that she retain her natural innocence and faith in life(Balakier 21).

In the final verses of stanzas 1, 2 and 3, Thomas divulges in stanza 1:

I would not fear the apple nor the flood Nor the bad blood of spring (6-7). The apple and the flood, a direct reference to the Garden of Eden and the flood in which God destroyed the earth, altogether can be interpreted as meaning, he would not fear life as a whole, nor the beginning or the end. The “bad blood,” in this verse, is the exact opposite of spring, which would be autumn. These seasons represent life and death as well. Thomas makes known his fear of war in the final lines of stanza two:

I would not fear the gallows nor the axe Nor the crossed sticks of war (13-14).

Fearing the gallows or the axe, could be interpreted as suggesting that during war, if one speaks out against it, he or she is subject to being executed. This is explained by one of his letters to Pamela Johnson:

If you read the news, you’ll see that Swansea is the center of all revolutionary activities this week. It is the week of the trail of Tom Mann and Harry Pollitt, whose trial has been framed-up by the police and the local authorities (qtd. in McKay 146).

Pollitt, and Mann had been charged with making “seditious speeches (McKay 146).

In stanza 3, again Thomas sums up his fears: I would not fear the devil in the loin Nor the outspoken grave (20-21).

“The devil in the loin”, could be the same as when Paul writes of a “thorn his side” (2 Cor 12:7-9). In Thomas’s case, the thorn is the “outspoken grave”

Plato writes, “Because the poet traffics in mimesis, ungoverned by reason, appealing to the irrational part of the soul, this makes it right for us to proceed to lay hold of him and set him down as the counterpart of the painter.” Dylan Thomas is an artist, and like Plato, clarifies the nature of his craft in a letter to Pamela Johnson:

There is no necessity for the artist to do anything. There is no necessity. He is a law unto himself, and his greatness or smallness rises or falls by that. He has only one limitation, and that is the widest of all: the limitation of form (qtd. in Ferris 25).

There is, or in Thomas’s case, was, a method to his madness, if one wishes to call Thomas mad (and of course many people did and still do). “I write at the speed of two lines an hour,” explained Thomas (qtd. in Ferris 51).” In “If I were tickled by the rub of love”, his message is simple: love is never perfect because it cures nothing, life equals death, the thought of death equals depression, so therefore one should give into temptation and lust after women and wine; because, as Oscar Wilde once proclaimed, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself” (21). And in true fashion, after supposedly declaring “I’ve had eighteen straight whiskies. I think this is a record,” Thomas lapsed into a comma and died in 1953.

Balakier, James J. “The Ambiguous Reversal Of Dylan Thomas’s “In Country Sleep”. Papers on Language & Literature 32 (1996): 1-13.

Carson, Rick. “Thomas’s “A refusal to mourn the death, by fire, of a child in London.” Explicator 54 (1996): 240-241.

Cox, C. B., eds. Dylan Thomas: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1966.

Ferris, Paul, eds. The Collected Letters of Dylan Thomas. New York City: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985.

Halperen, Max. “Thomas: “If I were tickled by the rub of love”. Explicator 25 (1962): 21-23.

Kaufman, Ellie. “BookRags Book Notes on The Picture of Dorian Gray.” 10 May 2005.<_ http://www.bookrags.com=”&#8221; notes=”” dg=””>

The Bible. King James Version.

Thomas, Dylan. The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. New York: New Directions, 1953.

Tindell, William York. A Readers Guide to Dylan Thomas. New York: H. Wolff, 1962.

Yow, John. “An analysis: “If I were tickled by the rub of love.” Studies in Poetry 1 (1977): 30-45.

Copyright © 2005, Chad M. Ard, All Rights Reserved.

Just Relax Take it Easy… EDIT, EDIT AGAIN, AND AGAIN…

Self-publishing, for the most part, is not as difficult as it had been in the past. Kindle actually makes the process very easy. Even so, that doesn’t mean what you have written is ready to go, so relax is a lesson I’m learning and figured I’d pass this tip along.

Now, I know I’ve read this somewhere, and I don’t know who said it but I’ll put it in quotes anyway: “Don’t worry about getting it right, worry about getting it written.” Now that’s true for the most part in the early stages, but at some point, you do have to worry about getting it right. And that part, especially after you have written 200 pages, and read, and re-read, it is very easy for whatever document program you are using to overlook mistakes, and I can tell you that it’s usually the smallest of details like homonyms or dialogue quotations, you know simple stuff. And it will drive you mad!

But relax….It can wait until it’s ready. I was in a rush to publish my book, believing I had ironed out all the mistakes until I published it and began reading and that although I had fixed many issues over the last 15 years, there were errors just yelling out to me: “Stop everything you are doing and fix this NOW!

So that’s what I’ve been doing most of yesterday and today is fixing those issues. And then I ran into another issue: formatting. I realized when I self-published from my Word document onto Kindle, there were spacing issues. I have had to go back and correct those and have learned not to trust the program to get it right, but trust myself to proof-read and fix those errors.

Creating the Kindle EBook manuscript isn’t too difficult because of the KDP Create add-on that will set up most of the file for you. It too can be problematic, so go through every page when you review, not just the first couple.

The paperback, on the other hand, caused the most issues, setting up margins, trim, gutter, WTF man, just let me do this so I can have some alone time with my wife!

But trust me, you can attempt to download a template, but I promise you when you get ready to format your book to self-publish, go here and follow the instructions carefully: https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G202145400

No lie, this made my life so much easier and in the future, if I decide to keep pursuing self-publishing rather than approach agents and publishers, these last few days have been crazy, insane, and aggravating, but as I push harder to get it right, hopefully, as close to perfection as possible, this experience has enlightened me and I hope those that read this will be enlightened too.

Well, so that’s done, I can now begin focusing on my next project.

BTW: watched “Uncle Drew” last night with my wife, loved it.

Much love and respect to everyone…You keep me inspired and I hope I do the same for you. Keep writing! CMA

Couldn’t Sleep…Too Busy Writing My Next Project–in my mind…

For starters, the last few days have been friggin cold, and then last night it warmed up so my wife and I couldn’t get comfortable. We did watch the newest episode of True Detective Season 3 ep: 5. It was filmed mostly here in NWA. I remember seeing the catering trucks and Star Trailers in town. I’m loving the series, and the acting and dialogue are amazing. I’m very intrigued by the plot and well, it’s something decent to watch until the final season of Game of Thrones comes back in April…

But where was I? So it was too hot in our bedroom. I tossed and turned, and found myself fixated on my next (several) writing projects. I was working out plot lines and character development, and finally, at some point, I passed out.

My first project this morning was to make an update to my new Ebook, “Forever Striking a Crucified Pose”. After publishing it, I started reading through it and realized that when I utilized the Kindle Create Software it created spacing problems that didn’t exist in my final draft. So I woke up, started coffee, and went outside (the weather is actually very nice today) to finish that. I went back inside to make coffee I had started earlier and noticed that I had instead only made boiling water having forgotten to put in the coffee grounds. So, yeah, I didn’t sleep well. However, I did manage to finish the post-editing on my book and uploaded it back to Kindle (which could take up to 72 hours to be reviewed). I don’t think it will take that long. My printed proof of the book should be arriving in the mail today and I’m sure I’ll have some issues with it. I’m still learning the processes of self-publishing, and I’m not too hard on myself because I realized from the outset I’d probably make a few mistakes.

However, with that said, I am still trying to settle on which project to begin next…I have several ideas in mind. One is a novella. I have a novel I could be finishing and a few short stories I’ve started I could be working on. Even so, this poses a conundrum, I am happy that I have multiple ideas and projects, and I know when I finally settle on one it will move pretty fast, because I’ve already played the stories out in my head, when I can’t sleep, in my dreams, and when I’m walking through the store grocery shopping…

So maybe instead of waking up and starting coffee, I should probably set the coffee maker up before going to bed, that way I can prevent this from happening again. I hope all is well….Much love and respect to all of you. CMA

Super Bowl? I’m Busy Working On My Next Project…

The big game. The big dance. Don’t get me wrong, I love football. I have several fond memories of going to several games and even to Super Bowl XLV in Dallas. My brother and me had season tickets back in the day to see the Saint’s of New Orleans, and would drive 10 hours one way, watch the game, which last’s normally around 3 hours and drive 10 hours back. And each and every time on the way home we’d swear we’d never do that again–but we would, the very next home game.

But, now that I’ve self-published my book Forever Striking a Crucified Pose on Amazon, and have spent the last few days promoting it on Twitter, FB, and Instagram, it’s time to get back at it. The main reason for publishing these stories as I mentioned in an earlier post, is that I had written them over the last 15 years, and it seems like anytime I wanted to start something else, I’d fixate on the fact that I haven’t published the one’s I had written, and I had re-read, edited, re-read, edited some more, (and it appears when formatting it using Amazon Create there may have been some mistakes in the final cut, that I will have to fix), I was satisfied, more than satisfied, with those stories and wanted an outlet in which to share them that didn’t mean spending lots of time searching through WritersMarket.com and looking for suitable publishers in which to send these works (and I have done this and it has times been successful, but most of the time–rejection). Oh well….

So, I don’t have football on the brain, and obviously I will hear all about it before, during and after the game through Push Notifications. What I am fixated on; however, is which project to start next. I have several ideas in mind, even a novel in which I’ve written over 200 pages. But I cannot lie that I have been contemplating more script writing. I have written three screenplays, had some interest in one, but eventually fell through, but I love the idea of writing screenplays, and even more fascinated by seeing something I’ve created come to life on the big or small screen.

Also, screenwriting, normally around 80 Pages is your aim, or in other words, one page is the equivalent of one minute of screen time. Most of it is dialogue and interior or exterior descriptions…etc.

Nevertheless, I think my next project will be a novella, it’s a story I’ve had in mind for sometime and have written some drafts. It’s a romance, and begins in “96 and takes place in New Orleans. It too, may be a book I decide to self-publish maybe within the next couple of months. I haven’t yet decided if I like the self-publishing route vs. the traditional, find a publisher/agent route. Forever Striking a Crucified Pose will be a lesson learned, as far as that goes, and hopefully a good lesson.

So, I’ll from time to time promote on social media, but that can be so time consuming, but I love connecting with so many writers like me, and seeing what they have in the works or have finished, and I hope to maintain those relationships. And I will attempt to update this blog often, maybe daily on progress of what I’m working on, or whatever comes to mind. Thanks so much for the recent follows and visits to this page. Much respect and love to all of you…..CMA

Dirty Realism? IDK maybe? I just write…..

Raymond Carver, one of my favorite short story authors once described himself and his writing as being “inclined toward brevity and intensity”.

This is the approach I take when writing short stories also. Some, I don’t know who, call the style “Dirty Realism”, and I don’t know if many authors labeled as dirty realist care for this term anymore than Korn likes being branded “Nu Metal” or Greta Van Fleet enjoy all the recognition of sounding too much like Led Zeppelin, but at the same time, to basically start a new genre in music or to be compared to one of the greatest rock bands in history, or being labeled as a dirty realist writer, would be fine by me.

I’ve always enjoyed reading, by the time I was 10 had read over 300 books, from Tolstoy, to the Warren Commission, and if you don’t believe me, I actually won an award for reading, (ha that was a unique experience being called up to the podium in an awards ceremony in elementary school and given a plaque with the words “A day without reading is a day without sunshine”). I did not know the school librarians kept up with this statistic.

I don’t necessarily think about genres when I’m writing. I write what I see and what I have experienced, and what I feel in my heart. When writing poetry, I feel I had an amazing teacher in Dylan Thomas. The first time I read his poem “If I were tickled by the rub of love” I was mesmerized, because I had no damned clue what he was talking about. But that one poem led me on a journey, where I learned terms like syllabic and pentameters and assonance and consonance, and it led me to read his biography, where he was quoted:

I am a painstaking, conscientious, involved, and devious craftsman in words, however unsuccessful the result so often appears, and to whatever wrong uses I may apply my technical paraphernalia. I use everything and anything to make my poems work and move in the direction I want them to: old tricks, new tricks, puns, portmanteau-words, paradox, allusion, paronomasia, paragram, catachresis, slang, assonantal rhymes, vowel rhymes, [and] sprung rhythm. Every device there is in language is there to be used if you will (qtd.in McKay 376)” You can read my essay on this poem here: http://d21c.com/Chad_Ard/CMA/iiwtbtrul.html

Writing is a journey, not just one where you find a book you love, but when you find yourself wanting to learn more about the craft, and the language, and the author, and you find yourself writing, and re-reading, and editing, and editing more, and well you feel like you’re writing Absalom, Absalom, but you keep having to remind yourself you’re not Faulkner, and you can’t go a page and half without completing one sentence, so I start writing in the style of Faulkner’s “stream of conscientiousness” with a hundred pages and narrowing it down to five. And you re-read your poems over and over, in your head, and out loud, which can be annoying if you if you live in an apartment with thin walls, till you know each line, each word, and the same is for my short stories, until you sometimes get sick of them. And this is where some writers probably give up, but this is where you have to take the stand and remember it isn’t about getting it right, it’s about getting it written. Let it sit, if you have too, but come back. Don’t leave it just sitting there, you are the one giving the story life, and that means something.

In the second foreword of three forewords in Stephen King’s On Writing: A memoir of the craft, he explains: “fiction writers, present company included, don’t understand very much about what they do—not why it works when it’s good, not why it doesn’t when it’s bad” (11). King goes on to say:

When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done you have to step back and look at the forest…Your job during or just after the first draft is to decide what something or something’s yours is about (201).

So, I follow my heart, and I’m so fortunate to have a wife who supports me, and good friends and fellow writers who encourage me, and then the author’s of books I’ve read from Carver, Langston Hughes, Cullen, Fitzgerald, Sinclair, and so many countless others on social media, like me, promoting their published works, to keep writing. I have so much love and respect for all of you on Twitter, and Facebook, and other social media sites, because I know the struggle, and the want to give your characters life comes from someplace within, that cannot be easily dismissed or just put on a shelf to collect dust.

Reviews from my new book Forever Striking A Crucified Pose A Collection of Short Stories and poems

Sissy Pooh:

wow! I almost felt like I had a daughter of my own. I guarantee you when I have a baby girl I’ll be the same way. Well written! And I really like the parts about the “evil eye” or “death look” or something like that. I feel like I get that sometimes too. haha Good stuff though. Very personal and not generic. It’s a feeling that any good father would feel if he even cared about his daughter a little bit. You made the story about “you,” and “you” is something no one else can write about….you described the relationship in such vivid detail I would have never known you didn’t have a daughter. good stuff man…really good stuff…Aaron C.

I can honestly say I love this story. Being a daddy’s girl myself, I know what I put my daddy threw and still am. I love the whole plot…Brittney H.

This story was SO SWEET! And now that I’ve got that out of my system, I wanted to say that I don’t want the title to change. To me, it seems to encompass the idea; she is his entire world and he would do anything for her. It’s true – one of the hardest things for a Dad to do is let go of their little girl and I think you did a wonderful job of expressing those emotions without getting “mushy”…Courtney H.

Well done. I thought it was a very realistic portrayal of the relationship a lot of fathers have with their teenage daughters and also the daughter’s boyfriend.
In my family, it’s my mom that’s overprotective; everything the dad was saying/thinking reminded me of my mom’s attitude towards me or my brother growing up, dating, etc. The story is something that I think a lot of people can relate to….Elizabeth M.

Being the mother of two girls I can relate to this story. I live in a household where attitudes and emotions run wild on a daily basis. The story was thoughtful and the insight into how teenage girls feel about their parents was dead-on. There may have been one or two lines I would have worded differently. The very last lines could say: I wasn’t losing control of my life; my daughter was starting hers. Just a thought, but overall I smiled the entire time I was reading it. It made me feel good…Kelly Y.

I liked the last line. I think it should stay the same. It’s more meaningful…Mystina S.

I can relate to this story because it reminds me of my own experiences with my dad. I like that the parents are so real and that the story flows well. I feel like I know the charecter’s personally. I laugh at the mom because I could see myself saying all that to my husband when we have kids someday. Your story also reminds me of a bit by Bill Engvall about boys dating his daughter. Also, it would be a good episode on a sitcom….Jessica B.

This is my favorite story you have written so far. I am a daddy’s girl so this really hit home. This guy reminded me so much of my dad. He does not speak a lot but he sure does have things on his mind. His daughter is so realistic because she had no idea she was having this big of an impact on her father just like I had no clue except for the hints from my mom. This is a great story. It amazes me how well you bring all your characters to life. I think you should definitely leave the title because when my dad calls me by my pet-name, to me, it reveals his sincerity…Marli M.

I think this story will be successful because it is something that every father will go through. It also reminds me of what my dad has been going through in the past couple years. I read this story and finally understand his perspective. It’s a good reality story that I think everyone could read and benefit from it. It was good. I would kind of add a little more to the ending though. I’m not really sure its finished, but I think you can still go somewhere with this story. I think you should elaborate some more on the dad’s feelings when they are dancing together…Mystina S.

Dude, I almost cried. I like the interludes that seem to interupt the story. It is enough of a break, so the reader doesn’t have to just constantly hear him complain. You answered teh problem in an extremely productive manner. Very nice!. Benjamin E.

I love the detail, I’m a bit a detail junky myself, so I defnitely got a good sense of what was going on. I was reminded a little bit of my dad, just because he is protective of us too, you had a good grasp on this character…Kendall C.

I agree with Kendall; you captured the overprotective father extremely well. The ending, while sentimental, works with the character; no matter how gruff he seems his main feature is still his love for his daughter…Kelsey R.

I think you’ve found an archetype here: the begrudgingly accepting father. Dale is the Everydad. It started to remind me of the relationship I had with my last girlfriend’s dad until the dad started to approve of the boy – he had severe bi-polar disorder, and this story is making me want to write about him. I like the way the daughter starts digging in the yogurt for M&M’s. …Jacob M

I liked this story ALOT! It sounds to me that you have good family values. I like how you made it so personal and I was just into it the whole time, usualy when I read things I get side tracked but this I was deep into this story. I have to say I LOVE the title because it is original and it fits perfectly. I like the evil eye thing haha I think that happens to everyone, it was something I think all your readers can relate to…Alexander L.

The Tree and The Chainsaw :

That was really good. It was a bit of a slow beginning, but once it got started, the momentum kept me going. The ending is not what I expected at all. I somewhat expected for him to come to a closure and leave the tree. But I don’t guess the story was really about him anyway though… John E.

I think it built and ended beautifully. I’m not surprised that the characters have real-life counterparts. They feel real. They speak how my family speaks…Jacob M.

I love that idea that since the boy’s family rarely visits the site of the boy’s death, he becomes Jim and Rose’s in a sense. I noticed that while I was reading and I’m so glad that you voiced it. It brings a wholeness to the story, I think….Courtney H.

Very good story. I liked the dialogue between Jim and Rose; it felt very real and made it easy to picture the characters in my mind…Elizabeth M.

“I know these people.” The story reminds me of a conversation that could happen in my family. My favorite part was the ending. It was so real. I could see it all. Great work….Marli

Wow. This story is amazing. I think of all your stuff that I have read, this one is my favorite. I could see it all happening. I could see it all from the start. The details are great. I love the conversations between Jim and Rose as well as the little details in between. I could see both sides of the spectrum as far as whether or not to cut the tree down, but once he told the story, I agreed with the decision. It was really hard to read the part about the crash because I’ve known some people to die like this, but that made it that much more real. Excellent work….Jessica B.

I absolutely love the imagery in this story that makes everything clear. I actually felt like I was there standing with them and smelling the blood and everything they too were smelling. Its very vivid. I also think that this story can help teenagers and others to realize how dangerous drinking and driving could be because of the imagery you used. I think it will make a difference in someone’s life later. I love it. Great job….Mystina S.

I like this story, and it seems very realistic. The couple in the story could easily be my grandparents who have been married for 35 years. The back and forth between them brought the story to life…Kelly Y.

The mindsets of these characters reminded me of my grandparents. My grandpa is a very straightforward man who does things the instant he thinks that they need to be done and sees no reason to ask opinions about it, and my grandma thinks things out a bit more, but they are a good balance for each other just like I think that these two characters balance each other out…Kendall C.

Overall I liked this story. These were three dimensional characters for me, and the dialogue really flows for me…Kelsey R.

Forever Striking A Crucified Pose:

A very good story with an equally good and important message. It’s nice to see someone who isn’t afraid to (heaven forbid!) criticize the church and acknowledge flaws in religious institutions and people; particularly in the Bible Belt.
I think my favorite part of the story is this, particularly the last line:

I understood at an early age that nothing is perfect. Not even our most sacred institutions are faultless. And perfection, or the pursuit of perfection, is what I believe has made humans dysfunctional. To expect perfection from others, or our institutions when we ourselves do not come close in our own daily lives to being perfect is a duplicitous act. And I have found over the course of my years that those who practice this vain existence are rigid people. And if you pay close attention to history you’ll notice that societies of people who refuse to bend to collective change are eventually eradicated… Elizabeth M

Speaking technically: I loved your description of Eureka Springs. I’m from Texas, so I don’t feel shamed in saying that I’ve never been there, but you created a clear picture in my mind, and yet I could still relate it to certain places I know back in my hometown. Wonderful characterization also, I could definitely see this preacher’s point of view.

Speaking personally: I think this guy’s the antichrist. Oh, I’m not saying that he should be a perfect little preacher. Some churches are terrible. The majority of the ones I’ve been to are hypocritical. And of course, people aren’t much better. But the way in which he rationalizes his actions and his tendency to be appealing to others gives him the characteristics of the antichrist. I mean, the guy cheated on his wife and convinced the woman he cheated with that God understood why she was committing adultery. He made it sound like they were sexing it up for Jesus for crying out loud.

One last thing (sorry this reply is so freaking long. I couldn’t resist) the preacher’s ramble at the beginning reminded me of a part of Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography. “I concluded at length, that the mere speculative Conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our Slipping.” But at least Ben Franklin tried. None of us can be perfect, but we can know what will hurt others and try to avoid that. We can at least try to be the best we can for the sake of those we affect.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed this :)…Courtney H.

First things first, that is a very powerful story. I think maybe if we had a paragraph telling a little bit of what Lon did when he was off doing his own thing that would be great also. But I can honestly say that story gave me the chills when he justified cheating with “He knows how miserable we are” and it wasn’t because he was a pastor because I agree with the fact that pastors are just people to, but just the fact he justified cheating. the story flowed very well and the set up was great, I’ve never been to Eureka Springs, but I think it will be a very interesting place if there really are extremely sactified people on one side and sinners on one side! Overall i enjoyed the story, the only thing I would like to hear what he did when he ran off….Britney H.

I think my favorite line is:

” Placing the concrete statue of Christ on the mountain was not an act of modesty, it’s a proclamation saying we are Christians and we are proud of that fact. Therefore, to counteract that straightforward display of arrogance, the left-wingers, and swingers, and homosexuals, or in other words, those who directly insult the bible-thumpers, have taken up residence in the valley below the mountain.”

I believe you just wrote about nearly every city in America. Everywhere you look there are divisions among the people as far as religion, morals, lifestyles, etc. Our world is definately divided and corrupt…Jessica B.

The setting here is perfect. Eureka Springs is one of my most favorite towns in Arkansas, and I think you captured the contrast of it. Don’t you just love the iron of a giant Jesus statue in one of the most swinging towns in Arkansas?

I also like the character you’ve developed in Lon. His rationale for his position really fleshes him out, and by giving him these flaws you make him seem more real…Kelsley Robbins

I like this one. It’s kind of unusual for Lon to be so aware of his flaws. It’s easy enough to believe he is that flawed, but it’s on a new level when he knows it so well. He has his excuses and rationales, but still – wow. I love the Mr. Smith Goes to Washington reference. His movies always leave me disillusioned….Jacob M.

This story plays into the reason I don’t attend church anymore. There are too many preachers out there, who weren’t neccessarily “called” to preach. This charchter “Lon” is no one I want sending prayers up for me. He is exactly what is wrong with Christianity. The character proves he is not perfect, but he is so dislikeable to me, I don’t want to keep reading about him. I did like the lines when you said the statue was a lie and then listed the reasons it was a lie. People do interpet Jesus in so many ways..Kelly Y.

I realy like how you speak your mind in this story. Most people are afraid to talk bad about church or whatever but you just said how you feel and that is awesome in this story. The character Lon reminds me of the preacher at my grandma’s church, when she makes me go, a good reason why I’m not so big on church. I like the description of Eureka Springs it made me get a good visulisation because I have been there and the description of it took me back and overall this is an excellent story…Alexander L.

At Piney Bay:

You have understood the first rule of contemporary poetry, namely, to write about what you know, using sensory details instead of abstract language. “At PineyBay” becomes your own, because it’s a location you know intimately, and the descriptions work very well.

I was struck by the beauty of the line “Indolent sun reflects off the green pool” both in terms of its romanticism and in terms of its realism: Arkansas heat can indeed feel indolent.

Forever Striking a Crucified Pose (recently self-published) and the journey it took to get here.

So, it’s taken about 15 years to finally get around to it, after debating with myself about taking the old fashioned route of attempting to find publishers to publish my stories (and I did send several query letters over the years). I did manage to get several op/eds published and a poem in The Finger and a few positive responses to a screenplay I had written, I found my self focused on these stories when I want to focus on new stories. So after a heart attack in February and resigning from my work in the non-profit sector, I decided to self-publish on Amazon. Although, I do not know how well the book will do, or if anyone will purchase it, I’m just very happy to no longer have these stories sitting stored on a documents file on my computer collecting dust metaphorically speaking. And maybe, just maybe, someone will read it and I hope find something within the pages inspiring, but either way, I’m just happy to be able to share it with the world. CMA