Venture Galleries http://venturegalleries.com Connecting Readers, Writers, and Books Sun, 07 Feb 2016 11:32:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s your reason for writing? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/whats-your-reason-for-writing/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/whats-your-reason-for-writing/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 08:40:03 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73205 Joan Didion tries to understand the pictures in her head. I SIT DOWN EVERY MORNING while dark still hangs from the trees outside my window and write. Even when I don’t want to do it, I do it. Can’t help myself. I write because... Read more

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Joan Didion tries to understand the pictures in her head.

Joan Didion tries to understand the pictures in her head.

I SIT DOWN EVERY MORNING while dark still hangs from the trees outside my window and write.

Even when I don’t want to do it, I do it.

Can’t help myself.

I write because somebody told me a secret, and I want to tell somebody else.

Don’t know who told me the secret.

Don’t know if they’re living or dead.

Don’t know where the voices came from.

But it’s a secret, and I can’t keep it.

I am obsessed with the thought of passing it on.

None of us write for the same reasons.

None of us, famous or unknown, have the same motivation.

But we write.

To stay alive, we do three things. We breathe, we eat, and we write.

As Lord Byron said, “If I don’t write to empty my head, I go mad.”

Perhaps he speaks for us all.

Maybe the only thing that keeps all writers from going insane is a single dangling participle.

Here is what the writers themselves say:

Neil Gaiman has pointed out, “The best thing about writing fiction is that moment where the story catches fire and comes to life on a page, and suddenly it all makes sense and you know what it’s about and why you’re doing it and what these people are saying and doing, and you get to feel like both the creator and the audience. Everything is suddenly both obvious and surprising … and it’s magic and wonderful and strange.”

Truman Capote put great emphasis on his style, his ability to write with precision and clarity and a strong descriptive voice. He said,To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music that words make.”

Ernest Hemingway, in his perfect spare Hemingway style, said, “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.”

When it came to writing, Mickey Spillane relied on the experiences he had endured. He said, “If you’re a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he’s good, the older he gets, the better he writes.”

Anne Rice explained, “Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was fourteen. My daughter died at the age of six. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I’m writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is.”

According to Judy Blume, “Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being.”

Don DeLillo calls writing a personal freedom. He believes, “It frees us from the mass identity we see in the making all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture, but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals.”

Says Joan Didion, “write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. Why did the oil refineries around Carquinez Straits seem sinister to me in the summer of 1956? Why have the night lights in the bevatron burned in my mind for twenty years? What is going on in these pictures in my mind?”

Perhaps we can all relate to the words of Joan Didion.

Pictures dance in our heads.

Thoughts we don’t understand interrupt our sleep at night.

Write us down, they say.

I don’t know what the thoughts mean, I say.

Write them anyway, they say.

Why?

“You’ll find out what they mean, they say.

Voices keep talking to us.

Strange voices.

Faraway voices.

We see life as a child.

We see life as it never was.

We see life as it should be.

We see life as it can’t be.

We forget what out mamas told us: We talk to strangers.

And we go into the dark places of our mind to write the stories that won’t leave us alone.

Will we sell them?

Maybe.

Will writing make us rich?

We all get a good laugh at that notion.

But it’s as Junot Diaz said, “In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

I wrote Night Side of Dark because I wanted to find out how it ended.

Unknown

 

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Is your mind and body always in the same place? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/is-your-mind-and-body-always-in-the-same-place/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/is-your-mind-and-body-always-in-the-same-place/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 07:55:20 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73194 Are we paying attention at all times, or does a mind take a walkabout? ONE THING you never have to concern yourself with if you subscribe to my blog is the possibility of my filling up your inbox. It’s been awhile since my last blog. If I... Read more

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Are we paying attention at all times, or does a mind take a walkabout?

Are we paying attention at all times, or does a mind take a walkabout?

ONE THING you never have to concern yourself with if you subscribe to my blog is the possibility of my filling up your inbox. It’s been awhile since my last blog. If I don’t have something that I suspect is worth your time to read, I don’t write. But last night, an incident presented me with material.

I run at night – because that is when I have time and because I am a night hawk and am most active at night. The downside of this predisposition is that it is dark and every now and then, I toe into a small rise of some sort – broken blacktop, bad seam, or poor paving and meet the road with various parts of my anatomy.

Last night was one of those, and though overall not as bad as some, it did leave a long split of skin for which my dear husband matched the edges back together and secured with “butterflies.” The wait for healing begins. I mention this not for sympathy because I played a role in this scenario by not paying attention. Earlier in the run a motorist had been rude and threatening, and I was still, in my mind, back there. Just as I said to myself, “That’s enough Christina, leave it,” I hit the rise in the road and down I went.

Christina Carson

Christina Carson

My life has been about asking questions, many of which have sought to understand the nature of this mind we’ve been endowed with, using the modern idiom—an extraordinary piece of technology—which routinely had us in one location, in our mind, while our physical body is someplace else doing something else, most often without our awareness of this contradiction.

Sure I knew I was on the road. Sure I knew I was running, BUT not in any of those precise moments when I was rendering my irritation over yet another angry, careless driver. We would swear we are aware of both at the same time. The brain fools us because its speed is phenomenal. It jumps back and forth between, in this case, my attention to the road and the conversation in my head that I’m having with the driver long gone.

Our awareness is generally not developed enough to notice when our minds make the jump from where we are physically to a scenario in our minds. We truly believe we can “multi-task.” It just isn’t so. In that blink of the jump from my attention on the road to the rant in my head, life could have ended, depending on the circumstances. Fortunately, for me, this time I’m merely incapacitated.

I have spent a lifetime studying this phenomenon where we are one place in our mind at the same time as being another place with our bodies. People can go through their entire lives without realizing that their present reactions or emotions in no way reflect their present environment. The best modern day example is people talking on the phone while driving. Their attention can be miles away depending on the conversation, even decades away, and we’ve all noted at one time or another how that effects what they are actually involved with – operating a car.

The growing interest in mindfulness is a heartening indication that more and more people are beginning to realize how much of their actual lives they miss by spending it in endless conversations in their head. We can change this as the practice of mindfulness can show us. I have spent many years working to silence that otherwise seeming endless conversation that so robs us of lives that we could have, ones where our awareness is involved with the actual moment we are living.

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Obviously, I still have work to do, but I’ve had a taste of that delicious freedom that accrues to us when the mind is still, and that is why I sat this morning feeling a deep sense of rapport with Mary Oliver and her sense of wistfulness when she says in the last half of her poem “Blue Iris”:

“What’s that you’re doing?” whispers the wind, pausing

in a heap just outside the window.
Give me a little time, I say back to its staring silver face.

It doesn’t happen all of a sudden you know.

 

“Doesn’t it?” says the wind, and breaks open, releasing

distillation of blue iris.

 

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,

the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

Christina Carson is the author of Accidents of Birth.

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Fighting Evil with the Truth http://venturegalleries.com/blog/fighting-evil-with-the-truth/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/fighting-evil-with-the-truth/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 07:50:12 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73202     CONSIDERING ALL THE BAD NEWS reported every day we could begin to believe that there is so much evil going on we will never be able to stop it. Not true. That’s the first thing to know. It’s not true. It's a... Read more

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T4T#299CONSIDERING ALL THE BAD NEWS reported every day we could begin to believe that there is so much evil going on we will never be able to stop it.

Not true. That’s the first thing to know. It’s not true. It’s a lie.

There is only one evil. It has many faces. It plays many roles. It speaks many languages. But, it is just one lie.

It may appear that we must deny each version of the one lie.  But, the truth is, we only have to recognize this one lie for what it is.

Then we can permanently disable evil, and dissolve its power forever.

We have reached a time in our world where doing just that is no longer a luxury, but is now an imperative call to action.  For each one of us.

We can’t go to war against evil. Because then we would be using the same methods the lie uses. It doesn’t resolve the issue, it escalates it.

But in many ways it is a war and a battle. Not with something or somebody else, but with the idea that the one lie, or one evil, exists. We can defeat that idea, not from without, but from within.

Beca Lewis

Beca Lewis

How can we do this? First we begin with the Truth there is only One power and it is all Good.

The one lie claims that there is more than one power.

The one lie claims that the One omnipresent, omniscient, omniaction, omnipotent is not Omni.

The one lie claims that there are two powers, one good, one bad.

The one lie claims that bad is present, and as capable as good.

The one lie uses terrorist’s tactics to scare us into submission or anger.

The one lie feeds on our fear.

The one lie’s intention is to make us forget that there is only One power and that one Infinite Good.

Yes, when we stop and examine its premise then the one lie makes no sense at all.

Of course we are always faced with the question. “If there is only One then where did this illusion of the one lie that there is two come from?”

It doesn’t matter if we don’t understand the how or why right now. The human mind cannot understand this illusion and it is a distraction and red herring to spend time trying to do so.

What we can do is follow the logic of Truth.

We know it to be true that what we perceive is what we experience. The corner stone of The Shift has always been, “What we perceive to be reality magnifies.”

Terrorism, in all its forms, wants us to see it, the one lie, as reality so that it can magnify.

Is this what we want? Of course not!

We want to perceive, magnify, observe, and live in abundant joy and harmony.  Let’s follow this perception law to its ultimate conclusion. When we magnify good through good works, good talk, and the refusal to hate,  the one lie of evil has no place to exist.

We dissolve it within, so that it will be defeated without.

As we attend to the needs of our neighbors in all areas of the world, we stand in Truth.  We don’t let the outward become the inward.

We stand at the doorway of our thinking and say “no” to the one lie in all its subtle suggestions.

This means that we also stop agreeing with the one lie’s siren call of materialism. We stop participating in any tactics that can escalate into large scale terrorism.

If we examine our thinking on a continual basis we  will uncover and uproot any outgrowth of the one lie, no matter what form it is taking.

How do we know when it is the one lie or the One Truth?

If it steals happiness, joy, security, and love, it is the fruit of the one lie.

If it reveals happiness, joy, security, and love as ever-present for everyone, it is the fruit of Truth, good.

We can stand together in this ultimate denial of the one lie.

As we do, we will expose and dissolve its false power. Then we will know as we are known by the One Divine Intelligence of Good.

Inspirational author Beca Lewis is the author of Living in Grace.

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How an Interstate Highway Looks to an Artist http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-an-interstate-highway-looks-to-an-artist/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-an-interstate-highway-looks-to-an-artist/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 07:45:42 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73211 Wesley Clark's abstract painting of a highway. IT'S A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY in May and we’re off on a bit of an adventure. We take the ferry to Salt Spring Island to meet our friend, Wesley Clark. We own one of his paintings and we want at... Read more

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Wesley Clark's abstract painting of a highway.

Wesley Clark’s abstract painting of a highway.

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL SUNNY DAY in May and we’re off on a bit of an adventure. We take the ferry to Salt Spring Island to meet our friend, Wesley Clark. We own one of his paintings and we want at least one more for our new home.

Wesley meets us at the ferry terminal and takes us to his new place. He’s carved a space in the woods for a cabin and a studio. The first thing we notice as he drives into the yard is the wooden fish sculpture on the fence. Beautiful, but it wouldn’t fit in our condo.

Wesley gives us a tour of his property. Wesley builds. His wife gardens. Both the buildings and the gardens are works of art in themselves.

We go into his studio and two new paintings—so new they’re not even signed yet—hanging on the wall across from the door snag my attention. They’re dark and gritty and edgy—vertical stripes of black and grey with a few—very few—touches of color.

Me: Oh, I like those.

Wesley: They were inspired by a road trip to Mexico.

Me: It’s the I-5!

Wesley: That’s exactly right. I can’t believe you knew that.

Me: How could I not? You’ve captured the horrors of that drive too well.

And he has. The endless streams of traffic, the dull grays of the tarmac, the guard rails, the minute glimmers of green on each side of the roadway—the monotony.

We move on to see his other paintings. His works are varied. Primitive pieces, landscapes, nudes, abstracts … My favorites are the primitive shaman pieces, but we already have one of those and another would be overkill. We settle on an abstract full of dramatic color, but I’m drawn back again and again to the I-5 pictures.

Do I buy one of the I-5s? No and yes. I do not want the black pictures that so vividly depict the agony of that drive that we did more than once and yet I do. Wesley offers a compromise showing us his first I-5 painting—also vertical stripes, but with more color. They’re not as gritty or edgy, but this picture will look great in our entrance and be a wonderful reminder of the time I instantly “got” a piece of abstract art.

Darlene Jones is the author of When the Sun Was Mine.

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Sunday Sampler: The Redoubt by Devorah Fox http://venturegalleries.com/blog/sunday-sampler-the-redoubt-by-devorah-fox/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/sunday-sampler-the-redoubt-by-devorah-fox/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 07:40:59 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73189 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler features an excerpt from The Redoubt, the bewildering adventures of King Bewilliam,... Read more

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Sunday’s Sampler features an excerpt from The Redoubt, the bewildering adventures of King Bewilliam, Book 4.

About Devorah Fox:

“What if … ?” Those two words all too easily send Devorah Fox spinning into flights of fancy. Best-selling author of The Lost King, The King’s Ransom, and The King’s Redress in The Bewildering Adventures of King Bewilliam literary fantasy series. She also co-authored the contemporary thriller, Naked Came the Sharks. with Jed Donellie and contributed to Masters of Time, a SciFi/Fantasy Time Travel anthology.

Publisher and editor of the BUMPERTOBUMPER® books for commercial motor vehicle drivers she is developer of the Easy CDL test prep apps. Born in Brooklyn, New York, she now lives in The Barefoot Palace in Port Aransas on the Texas Gulf Coast where writes the “Dee-Scoveries” blog at http://devorahfox.com and herds three rescued tabby cats.

The Story

Having bested beast, man, and even his own failings, King Bewilliam has regained his throne, reunited with his sons, and restored his embattled kingdom, yet something is lacking. When a crippling famine threatens the Chalklands’ very survival, his vassals propose a risky plan to seek aid from a distant ruler.

King Bewilliam strikes off on a perilous journey to the island empire of Sea Gate accompanied by a cadre of loyal knights and nobles who are unaware that the plan will reunite the king with a spurned lover.

The Sampler

Devorah Fox

Devorah Fox

One by one, they drifted away from the campfire to their carriages, carts, and bedrolls leaving Robin staring into the guttering flames. His mind’s eye filled with a memory of riding double with Empress Alexandra which somehow transformed into an image of them charging away from Sea Gate Fortress.

But we are not characters in a fairy tale, Robin thought. We are real people, monarchs with kingdoms to rule, subjects dependent on us. Our responsibilities come first.

He stood, brushed crushed leaves from the seat of his trousers, and retired to his carriage, but sleep would not come. He lay awake, bothered by the itchy scar, by the image of Empress Alexandra’s wounded eyes, and by James’s unvoiced plea. After he tossed and turned one time too many, Meeyoo hissed at him and crawled off to sleep in an undisturbed corner.

He pulled on a tunic and strapped on his sword. Into his rucksack he tossed a flask, a candle stub, and James’s map, and slipped from the carriage which roused the page asleep on the plank seat.

“Sire?”

“Meeyoo has run off again. We are giving chase. Saddle Hope.”

“I will alert the men to come and help,” the page said.

“No,” Robin stammered. “Meeyoo will simply think it’s a game and she will run. If we go alone, she will come to us.”

The page moved to collect the royal tack.

“Just saddle Hope with anything serviceable for this escapade,” Robin stammered. “No need for finery. Moreover, we’re likely to get into some rough brush which would only ruin it.”

“Sire, I will fetch your cloak.”

“No need for that either. It too would only be soiled.”

“But it’s so cold.”

It was. Robin eyed the page. “Your coif and surcoat will do.” He held out his hand. The page doffed the humble garments. “Help yourself to a blanket from the carriage if you need it.”

“Thank you, Sire. I hope Your Majesty finds Meeyoo soon. Good luck.”

Indeed, Robin thought. He was going to need it.

 

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How much do you have to write to know thyself? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-much-do-you-have-to-write-to-know-thyself/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/how-much-do-you-have-to-write-to-know-thyself/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 09:00:03 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73170 Meeting with the Delphic Oracle. SOCRATES REPORTED that the Delphic Oracle gave him two words of advice: Know Thyself. Of course Socrates had it easy because he never tried to write anything.  He left that pursuit to Plato and... Read more

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Meeting with the Delphic Oracle.

Meeting with the Delphic Oracle.

SOCRATES REPORTED that the Delphic Oracle gave him two words of advice: Know Thyself.

Of course Socrates had it easy because he never tried to write anything.  He left that pursuit to Plato and Aristotle.

Now 2,500 years or so later we are still attempting to mine the depth of those two words.

One of the greatest tools for self-discovery is the keyboard.

I came to this realization the last few days as I have piddled with a story that requires me to explore not only events of forty-five or fifty years ago, but even more perilous, to dig into the inner workings of people’s minds during that time period.

One of those  minds I am attempting to excavate is my own.

Know thyself, the Delphic Oracle whispers.

Right.

I have appreciated for a long time the skill and insight authors must bring to a project when they write narrative nonfiction or historical fiction.  The ability to recreate a world now past is a  remarkable thing.

However, for me the more difficult task would seem to be placing oneself in one’s own shoes many years before.

I am a firm believer that as we move through the stages of our lives we develop or evolve so that the person we are in the present may be much different from the one we were forty years earlier. Those two people may be so different that little continuity exists.

So for the writer to conjure up the inner world of a character from fifty years before is very much akin to an archaeological dig, one where the best he can do is make educated guesses about how things were.

And along the way the author may make some discoveries about himself.

Already, only a few hundred words into the story I am working on, I have learned something about myself and my father.  I learned it not because I discovered a new fact, but rather because I took the time to examine a part of the family ritual we always followed at the noon meal on Sundays.

That ritual had been there for me to consider all these years, but all of sudden when I wrote about it, I came to understand it for the first time.

Damn that Oracle.

Stephen Woodfin is the author of The Revelational Trilogy.

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You should know better than to edit your wife’s novel. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/you-should-know-better-than-to-edit-your-wifes-novel/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/you-should-know-better-than-to-edit-your-wifes-novel/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 08:40:09 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73174 THIS HAS NOT BEEN a particularly good or an easy week. And it’s all my fault. Most things are. You see, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve had a few ups and a lot of downs. I know the difference. Still, I stood up,... Read more

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THIS HAS NOT BEEN a particularly good or an easy week.

And it’s all my fault.

Most things are.

You see, I’ve been around a long time.

I’ve had a few ups and a lot of downs.

I know the difference.

Still, I stood up, smiled, and before God and everybody committed literary suicide.

I don’t know why.

I certainly knew better than to do what I did.

I agreed to edit my wife’s novel, Mah-Jongg Murders.

It’s been published once.

Linda decided she didn’t like it.

She didn’t simply take the novel down from Amazon.

She ripped it off.

Somebody had found three typos.

Linda’s an English teacher.

She believes three typos are akin to treason.

She corrected the typos.

She decided to make a few changes in her story.

Nothing important, she said.

Six months later, she had added thirty thousand words.

I want you to edit the book, she said

I smiled.

I said I would.

Fools are born that way.

I sat down and began playing a game that’s a cross between solitaire and Russian roulette.

During my career, I have edited a lot of copy.

Magazine articles.

Film scripts.

Books.

Novels.

It’s a simple process.

I make changes.

I make revisions.

I make suggestions.

I send the manuscript back to the writer for approval.

I move on.

It doesn’t work that way when you edit your wife’s novel. Conventional wisdom says to never take a knife, scissors, hedge trimmers, or even fingernail clippers to your wife’s novel.

Think an edit can’t bleed?

Think again.

They’ve even written books about the subject.

Four come immediately to mind.

To Hell and Back.

The Mask of the Red Death.

Death Wish.

In Cold Blood.

Linda heard my suggestions.

She read my revisions.

She scanned over my corrections.

She cut her eyes sharply toward me.

Linda said nary a word.

She didn’t have to.

By now, I can read her mind.

Five movies came immediately to mind.

Psycho.

The Exorcist.

Night of the Living Dead

Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Dead Men Don’t Dance.

You did a really good job, I said.

She didn’t answer.

I loved how you added a new subplot, I said.

She glared at me.

The hook at the end was perfect, I said.

She walked out the door.

She didn’t look back.

Two books came immediately to mind.

Vengeance Is Mine.

And War.

It used to be War and Peace.

The Peace was missing.

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I would have rather faced death. http://venturegalleries.com/blog/i-would-have-rather-faced-death/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/i-would-have-rather-faced-death/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 07:55:03 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73163 I feared having to recite the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but I never forgot the poem. SHE MADE ME MEMORIZE long passages of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  My hang-up wasn't the poem or even... Read more

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I feared having to recite the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but I never forgot the poem.

I feared having to recite the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but I never forgot the poem.

SHE MADE ME MEMORIZE long passages of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  My hang-up wasn’t the poem or even memorizing it.  I knew when I walked into Mrs. Thomas’ English Class that I’d have to memorize some poetry.

What bothered me was there was only one way to prove I’d memorized the poem.  Eventually I would have to stand up in class and recite it.  It was my fear of the recitation that scared the hell out of me.

I would go to any lengths to avoid  it.  Now, after five years as a Toastmaster, eleven years as a professional speaker, and three years as co-minister of a church, I still remember the fear that gripped my heart, made my legs shake and my voice tremble the moment Mrs. Thomas called my name.

Mary Louise Thomas

Mary Louise Thomas

I also remember lying in a rice paddy, on the first day of Tet, 1968.  I was within earshot of the fighting in Saigon when I remembered Mr. Jones, one of my high school teachers, saying, “Bert, one day you’ll wish you were back here.”  As the battle for Saigon ebbed and flowed, and I figured I was about as close to dying as I had ever been, I still had no desire to be back in high school.

I laughed out loud when I realized the reason I’d rather be in that rice paddy than back in my old high school. It had nothing to do with death and everything to do with recitation.  Lying in that thick, smelly, water I could easily think of a number of things that not only might happen to me that day, but were becoming more likely by the minute.  However, one of them wasn’t standing up and reciting anything, and for that I was not only grateful, I had reason to believe I had a decent chance of surviving the day.

That war ended, and I fought others.  It seemed that would be my forever pattern, and it was until 1982, when I stood up in the middle of whatever rice paddy I was lying in at the time and shouted, “That’s it!  Call on me.  I’ll recite! If it kills me, fine, at least I’ll die standing up trying.”

Actually I wasn’t in a rice paddy in 1982.  I was in Memphis, Tennessee, when the desire to speak in public, which I’d harbored for forty years, called out the fear of speaking in public, which I’d also carried since the age of five.  The battle between the two desires raged for a while, and it wasn’t clear which would prevail.

The fight was waged in five Toastmaster Clubs I joined.  Each one met on a different day, at a different place, so it was a rare day when I didn’t have the opportunity to “recite.”  That war lasted for more than a year. Then, one day it just ended.  The fear of speaking simply gave up and walked away.  I looked down and saw my knees were’t shaking.  I listened and there was no quaver in my voice.  I released my grip on the podium and didn’t fall. and I heard…

Bert Carson

Bert Carson

At length we did cross an Albatross,

Through the fog it came;

As if it had been a Christian soul,

We hailed it in God’s name.

Sometime later I remembered something else Mrs. Thomas had told us, “Find a poem you like, memorize it and be ready to share it with the class Monday.”

That pretty much put the weekend down the drain, but I feared what would happen if I wasn’t prepared more than what might happen if I was, so I found a short poem and I memorized it. I wasn’t called on that Monday, or the next, or the next.  But, I was ready to recite, and I still am.

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said – “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert… Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains.  Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

In my second year with Mrs. Thomas, she gave me an “A” for my essay, On the Devil, and a “B-” for The History of the Ku Klux Klan.  I don’t remember a single line from either of those essays.  I remember the poetry, and when I think of Mary Louse Thomas I remember:

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;

And all that’s best of dark and bright

Meet in her aspect and her eyes;

Thus mellowed to that tender light

Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,

Had half impaired the nameless grace

Which waves in every raven tress,

Or softly lightens o’er her face;

Where thoughts serenely sweet express,

How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,

So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,

The smiles that win, the tints that glow,

But tell of days in goodness spent,

A mind at peace with all below,

A heart whose love is innocent!

LORD BYRON (GEORGE GORDON)

Mrs Thomas, you made me face my worst fear and without me realizing you’d done it, you gave me the inspiration to whip it.  I’ll be forever grateful for that.  This one’s for you:

The fountains mingle with the river

And the rivers with the ocean,

The winds of heaven mix for ever

With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;

All things by a law divine

In one spirit meet and mingle.

Why not I with thine?-

See the mountains kiss high heaven

And the waves clasp one another;

No sister-flower would be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth

And the moonbeams kiss the sea:

What is all this sweet work worth

If thou kiss not me?

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

And a special thank you to my friend, David Atkinson for Poetry Thursday.

Bert Carson is the author of Fourth and Forever.

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Saturday Sampler: Conspiracy of Lies by Caleb Pirtle III http://venturegalleries.com/blog/saturday-sampler-conspiracy-of-lies-by-caleb-pirtle-iii/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/saturday-sampler-conspiracy-of-lies-by-caleb-pirtle-iii/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 07:40:13 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73158 In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best work in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Conspiracy of Lies, a noir espionage thriller from Caleb Pirtle... Read more

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Venture Galleries is showcasing some of the best work in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Conspiracy of Lies, a noir espionage thriller from Caleb Pirtle III.

As one reviewer said: Conspiracy of Lies is a taunt tale set during the Second World War when America, Russia, and Germany were in a deadly race to develop the first atom bomb. Of course spies were trying to infiltrate the U.S. secret research facilities at Los Alamos. A government agency dispatches Ambrose Lincoln to discover and eliminate those spies. Ambrose is somewhat of an experiment himself, having had all his memory erased by the agency to create a “better” assassin.

The Story

It was the race for the Atomic bomb. America was at war a long way from home. Hitler’s war machine was storming across Europe. Russia feared the German threat and secretly wanted to become a world power, more feared than it already was.

All three nations knew that whoever split the atom and developed the Atomic Bomb first would rule the world. A stealth espionage operation within the U. S. Government dispatched their man with no memory to Los Alamos where physicists, chemists, and scholars were frantically trying to build the bomb.

Ambrose Lincoln was himself a human experiment, a man whose mind had been erased by electronic shock treatments because the rogue political operation believed he could be more effective if he wasn’t shackled by fears and memories of the past.

It would be his duty to uncover and silence those spies who were trying to steal America’s most vital secrets and selling them to Russia and Germany. If he fails, the United States might well lose the war, and Lincoln finds himself embedded in a conspiracy of lies where nothing is as it seems to be.

The Sampler

12042930_10201199550308083_3149071777314199198_nTHE LIMOUSINE WAS long, black, and empty with the exception of the driver, and he had obviously been paid to drive and not talk. He looked military but had no doubt fought in a war that most had already forgotten, if anybody had ever known about it at all. He was tall and as thin as an M1 rifle. His face bore too many scars, and his baldhead had been well polished with oil. He wore sunglasses even though the sun had fallen behind a ridge of distant mountains. The desert had become purple, streaked light and dark with the shadows.

Ambrose Lincoln nodded when he climbed into the limousine.

The driver grunted.

The limousine was on the move by the time the back door slammed shut.

Lincoln opened the briefcase. It held what he had expected, a Walther P38 9mm pistol, manufactured in Germany. The handgun found all sorts of ways to enter the United States, some legal, some otherwise.

He recognized it immediately.

He had no idea whether or not he had ever fired one, but figured he had. He closed his eyes and thought back in time. The days before today. The years before today. For Ambrose Lincoln, it was a short journey. His mind was a landscape that had been torn into small pieces and tossed into the wind.

His instincts remembered everything.

His mind was little more than a charred remnant that lay in smoldering ruins, as if a wildfire had swept through his brain and, perhaps, it had. The electrodes had erased everything.

It’s best that you don’t remember. It’s best that you never know.

That’s what the voice said.

A man with an empty past is not afraid of tomorrow. A man who has died is no longer afraid to die. Graveyards are filled with men who were afraid.

            The voice was harsh.

And brittle.

Lincoln shoved the pistol into his belt, just beneath the small of his back, and watched darkness stalk the far reaches of the desert. A chilled wind cut through the sparse grasses of a volcanic landscape. A half moon hung crookedly atop the crest of the mountains. One lonely star hung beneath the moon as though it were held in the sky by a single thread of twine.

The town was small.

The city limit sign had been torn down, and no one had seen fit to replace it. Perhaps, it had never existed at all.

It had one street that cut straight through an assortment of sad, empty and abandoned buildings. No lights and no reflections flickered in their windows. There were no cross streets and no streetlights and no traffic.

The limousine pulled to a curb beside an old Masonic Lodge at the far end of town. It was two-stories, built of gray rock, and the roofing needed to be replaced. It had been, Lincoln figured, exactly thirty-two minutes and twenty-six seconds since they drove away from the hospital. He did not know how he knew. But he knew.

He climbed out of the limousine, rummaged around in his jacket pocket, pulled out a hundred dollar bill and handed it to the driver.

“We’re not allowed to accept tips,” the man said.

“Keep it.”

“I can’t.”.

“It may be your last,” Lincoln said.

“Shall I wait for you?” the driver asked.

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I won’t be coming back.”

A ragged wind ruffled his hair, and he saw a faint light spilling from a crack in the big wooden door. A marker on the lodge said it had been built in nineteen and eleven. The door looked original.

Lincoln opened it and walked in.

The room was dark, its mahogany walls lined with candle shaped sconces, and dimly lit crystal chandeliers hung from a decorative tin ceiling. Soft music was playing in the background. It sounded like Artie Shaw and maybe Begin the Beguine, but Lincoln wasn’t sure. He was never quite sure of anything anymore.

A maître d’ met him beside a wrought-iron gate that led into a plush dining room. Lincoln counted twenty-four tables. Two couples sat at each, separated by tapered candles. They were laughing and talking, the men wearing their black ties, the women adorned in silk gowns, or maybe some were wearing satin. Two couples were dancing, their bodies pressed together, swaying to the music.

The table in the corner, the one in the shadows, had three people.

Two men.

And a woman.

They were all looking at him.

Ambrose Lincoln began walking their way before the maître d’ had an opportunity to pick up a menu.

The older gentleman stood to shake his hand. “Thank you for coming, Ambrose,” he said.

The woman reached out and took his hand.

She was smiling.

The smile had reached her eyes.

“I’ve missed you, Ambrose,” she said softly.

She squeezed his hand.

Lincoln stared down at her. Long brown hair with curls dancing on her bare shoulders when she spoke. Hazel eyes. A face shaped like a heart with a beauty spot just below her left eye. Her gown was red and velvet. Her fingernails were long and a vivid red.

He had seen her once before. She was lying in a casket.

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FBA Friday XIII: Why is Amazon building bookstores? http://venturegalleries.com/blog/fba-friday-xiii-why-is-amazon-building-bookstores/ http://venturegalleries.com/blog/fba-friday-xiii-why-is-amazon-building-bookstores/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 09:23:05 +0000 http://venturegalleries.com/?p=73177 You may have seen in the news this week some talk about the scope of Amazon's plans to open a chain of physical bookstores. Although that conversation was not based on any hard information from Amazon, the fact remains that Amazon is in fact... Read more

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Amazon book store

You may have seen in the news this week some talk about the scope of Amazon’s plans to open a chain of physical bookstores. Although that conversation was not based on any hard information from Amazon, the fact remains that Amazon is in fact opening brick and mortar bookstores. Its flagship store pictured above is already operating in Seattle.

Why?

The simple answer is: It’s not either/or.  It’s both/and.

We are far enough into the digital book age to be able to make a couple of educated guesses.  The first is that digital books and ereaders are here to stay. The second proposition is that physical books are here to stay.

Digital books and physical ones will coexist for a long time to come.

The next conclusion we draw from Amazon’s aggressive move into physical bookstores is that its stores won’t go the way of many other brick and mortar bookstores for one reason.

Amazon’s bookstores won’t have to compete with Amazon.

The final observation is that Amazon is making this move because it understands perhaps better than any other company the profitability of selling books. Books, both digital and physical, are selling like hotcakes.  There is no end in sight.

What does all this mean for an FBA used bookseller?

It means it is a fantastic time to be selling used books through the FBA program. Amazon dominates online book sales, and the FBA bookseller operates within the larger world of Amazon.  If we view Amazon as the world’s biggest mall, then the FBA bookseller is like a store owner within the mall.

And the rise of this new place to buy new books does nothing to dampen the desire for people to find copies of used books which can’t be located in the brick and mortar stores.

The irony in the situation is profound. Amazon creates a vast portal for the sale of used books and fuels the hunger for such books by opening brick and mortar stores full of new books.

And, lest we forget, Amazon began as a bookstore.  There is a certain symmetry to the whole deal.

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