Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I Did On My Vacation


What I Did On My Vacation is the title of a flash fiction story I wrote a few years ago. It was published by an online magazine called Another Realm. It was a humorous look at aliens who visit Earth on their vacation. Let me know what you think about it. You can find it here.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Heart-Stopping Beauty


Sometimes I like to write horror stories. I wrote Heart-Stopping Beauty several years ago, and it was published in The Harrow magazine. Some people say it reminds them of "The Hunger", the David Bowie movie from a few years back. It gave me a chill to write it. I think it's a horrific horror story, but I'd be interested to know what others think.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Flannery O'Connor's Stories

Flannery O'Connor is one of my favorite writers. No matter how many times I read her short stories they still make me laugh out loud, or send shivers down my spine. Her stories are visual, dry as toast, revealing, and they pack a wallop. One of my favorites is "A Good Man Is Hard To Find". It's hilarious, but also scary in a very fundamental way. Here is a quote from it. 
Alone with The Misfit, the grandmother found that she had lost her voice. There was not a cloud in the sky nor any sun. There was nothing around her but woods. She wanted to tell him that he must pray. She opened and closed her mouth several times before anything came out. Finally she found herself saying, "Jesus. Jesus," meaning, Jesus will help you, but the way she was saying it, it sounded as if she might be cursing.

"Yes'm, The Misfit said as if he agreed. "Jesus thown everything off balance. It was the same case with Him as with me except He hadn't committed any crime and they could prove I had committed one because they had the papers on me. Of course," he said, "they never shown me my papers. That's why I sign myself now. I said long ago, you get you a signature and sign everything you do and keep a copy of it. Then you'll know what you done and you can hold up the crime to the punishment and see do they match and in the end you'll have something to prove you ain't been treated right. I call myself The Misfit," he said, "because I can't make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment."

Lord, I wish I could write like that.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Complete Sherlock Holmes


When I was 11 or 12 years old I discovered Sherlock Holmes, and it was a beautiful thing. I'd curl up with a book of Sherlock Holmes stories and read for hours, fascinated by the workings of this brilliant man's mind. I loved how his keen powers of observation helped him to solve mysteries. It was almost magical, how he'd be able to identify a murderer by the type of dirt on the man's boot, or the color of a twig sticking to the man's coat. It's been a long time since I read a Sherlock Holmes story, but I'm getting reacquainted with the great man because my daughter bought me a collection of the complete Sherlock Holmes stories for Christmas. He is one of the most fascinating characters in all literature, to my mind.
I know there's a new Sherlock Holmes movie out now, starring Robert Downey. The great detective has been portrayed many times on the silver screen, but I don't think anyone has truly captured his essence. For me, he'll always be more of a mind than anything else. A keen intelligence that cannot be pinned down to a mere actor playing a role.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Celestial Motion

I started submitting my stories, poems, and articles to online publications in the late 1990s. It's been great fun to get published this way.
Here's a poem, called Celestial Motion, that I wrote seven years ago, and it was published in a magazine called Astropoetica.
It's fun to do a Google Search on my name, and find my writing years later.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Markets For Flash Fiction

Flash fiction is short. It fits today's hurried lifestyle. Short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. Readers love it.
If you write flash fiction, here are some markets where you can get it published.

Use New Thought Principles For Success

New Thought is a name for a spiritual movement that started in the 19th century in the U.S. There are many branches of New Thought, but they all share a belief in the power of positive thinking to change one’s life. Here are some tips for using New Thought in your life.
. Banish negative thoughts. New Thought recognizes the power of the mind to change our lives. Our thinking determines who and what we are. Negative, defeatist thoughts lead to defeated lives. Our thoughts magnify our reality, which means that if bad things happen to you and you brood about them, everything will get worse.
. Visualize positive outcomes. Since our thoughts determine our reality, New Thought says that we should think positive thoughts in order to achieve our goals. The simplest way is to picture yourself having already attained whatever it is you want. Do this on a daily basis till you achieve your goal.
. Believe that there is a force greater than yourself that will help you attain your goals. You can call it God, Universal Mind, the Universe, or whatever, but New Thought teaches that there is a benevolent force that is bigger than ourselves, and it will help us attain our goals if we only ask. Prayer and visualization help us to ask for these benefits.
. Self-improvement is a lifelong journey. New Thought says that we are here to improve ourselves and make daily progress toward becoming the best person we can be. By using positive thinking, daily positive affirmations, visualization, and other techniques, we can get better and better each day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How to Find Great Bargains Online This Holiday Season

This is a story I published in eHow.

Trying to be more frugal during this holiday gift-giving season? You can find many ways to do it online. There are great bargains, discounts, and coupons galore to help you be a smarter gift giver. Here are some tips for finding great bargains online.

. Research products.
If someone on your gift-giving list asks for a digital camera, for example, you can research the best models online. Go to consumer review sites like Consumer Reports and read the product reviews. Remember, the most expensive product is not always the best one. You may find a cheaper product that actually has better quality and more of the features you want.
. Look for coupon/discount sites. Sites like Dealio have hundreds of new discounts, coupons, and deals every day.
. Visit auction sites. You can find great bargains on sites like eBay, but you have to know what you’re doing. If you’ve never used these sites, join one early in the holiday season and spend some time learning the ropes before you actually bid on an item. The more you use these sites, the more great deals you’ll find.
. Don’t forget Craigslist. People post 40 million ads a month on Craigslist, selling thousands of products and services. These are usually not new products, but many are in very good condition. You can be kind to your budget and find great bargains if you search Craigslist wisely.
. Check out sites where individuals can sell their wares. Want something unusual, that you can’t find in a store? Visit sites like Etsy, where people sell handmade arts and crafts, or Caf├ęPress, where folks sell t-shirts, mugs, calendars, artwork, and other unusual gifts they have designed. You can find some great bargains at these sites. In many cases these items are cheaper than what you’d pay in a store, and they’re a lot more creative and unusual.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Money From EBooks?

Here's a good story about how eBooks are changing publishing. Why Indie Authors Will Break Traditional Publishers actually has some hard numbers from an author about how much money he's made from eBook publishing. I was especially interested to see how much more he's made from self-publishing his eBooks.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My first eBook

Well, I did it. I'm officially an eBook author now. My book is called The Christmas Gift, and you can read a sample of it here. It's at Smashwords, and my author profile is here.

It's a short little book, only six thousand words, but it's a good read for both children and adults.

Let me know what you think.

John