David Bowie: A Cosmic Inspiration

Bowie

So we learned today that David Bowie left us for some transcendental plane. Whether you believe in heaven or not, it’s comforting for me to think that the creative consciousness of this remarkable spirit has burst out into the cosmos and is somehow lingering among us.

Along with all the other fine tributes from folks far more talented than I – Neil Gaiman and Peter Gabriel among them – I have to step in to offer my own small account of how this artist affected me. Continue reading → David Bowie: A Cosmic Inspiration

NoNoNoNo: The Tyranny of #NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

We’ve now officially passed the middle of what all writers (and exasperated spouses/family of writers) know as National Novel Writing Month. And I have come not to praise this obnoxious exercise in virtual participatory nonsense, but to kill it, burn it, gather the ashes in a bucket and bury them. In a deep, deep hole.

But what is NaNoWriMo, as it is so frequently described and hashtagged by those writers the rest of us just want to punch in the throat? It is a challenge, issued to writers annually by NaNoWriMo.org, to pound out 50,000 words of a novel during November. Continue reading → NoNoNoNo: The Tyranny of #NaNoWriMo

Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

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Call me an overachiever.

It’s not enough for me to just imagine characters and settings and plot and all the tasty ingredients that typically go into a novel. No, I’ve got to go the extra mile and imagine what those characters are listening to, what music might be playing the background of a given scene and what songs would accompany the film version of the story that I spend years imagining in my head.

And yes, I do it all for you, my beloved readers.

OK, not really. The fact is, I can’t help it. I’m an annoying hipster’s worth of musical knowledge packed into the body of a middle-aged prepster. The combination of the words and the music is just there, and there’s really not much I can do about it. Continue reading → Novel No. 2’s Soundtrack Takes Shape

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

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In the lives of kids, there aren’t many grays. In the case of bullying, there’s usually the bully, the victim and the bystanders – bad, good and indifferent. Young boxing champ and heavy rotation foster kid Carl Freeman is none of the above, having declared himself, thanks to a pact with his late father, a Philadelphia cop, to always protect the weak.

But within the confines of the foster care system and the various public schools Carl is dropped into over the course of his 16 years, his attitude is considered more criminal than heroic. When we meet Carl, his latest episode of vigilante justice has landed him in front of a judge who sentences him to the eponymous boot camp facility located off the Mexico mainland – away from any type of governmental supervision and outside the reach of U.S. child protection laws. There it becomes clear to Carl that something nefarious is being perpetrated by the camp commanders and that the teenage detainees are there for more than just reformation.

It’s with this nicely crafted setup that first-time author (and fellow member of the Brandywine Valley Writers Group) John Dixon begins his novel Phoenix Island (2014, Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster). Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘Phoenix Island’ by John Dixon

Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman

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A writer friend, after reading Neil Gaiman‘s excellent The Ocean at the End of the Lane, described herself as “still in a dream state,” days after finishing this slim but weighty novel.

It’s easy to see why.

Ocean is the tale of an adult who returns to his hometown for a funeral and after the ceremony returns to the site of his childhood home, and in the process recalls a series of mystical events that occurred nearby when he was 7 years old. Continue reading → Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Book Review: ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’ by Neil Gaiman