Showing posts from 2013


Writing is a tough business. It’s not laying bricks, sure, but it does demand the mental toughness to keep hitting the keyboard long after saner folks would have taken up orchid hybridization as an easier hobby. But we keep on keeping on, putting one word after the other. The late Octavia Butler, a black woman writer in science fiction (for far too long a bastion of white males), commented, "You don't start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it's good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say that one of the most valuable traits is persistence." So – we work, in order to do better work. It’s an apprenticeship, and if we want to become better writers, we create journeyman efforts until we can accomplish a masterwork. We’ve seen a lot of advice for writers over the years – write every day, write so many words every day, take part in marathons like Nanowrimo. But the best advice I ever received came from the director…

A Decent Man

Decent. That seems like faint praise, but good, decent, upright, honorable - words like that, describing people who are like that, say more than effusive puffery.
Len Gross was a decent man, a good man, and seeing his name under "in memory of" on the last page of the School of Journalism newsletter this afternoon took me right back to those West Virginia newsrooms and the inevitable calls, unwanted on both ends, to find out what happened when a mine accident took a life.
Len - later the Rev. Leonard Gross - graduated from the journalism program at West Virginia University in 1949 and went to work at various newspapers and TV stations around the state. In 1962, he went "over the fence" as we say and joined the public relations staff at Consolidation Coal Co., one of the predominant corporations mining in the northern coalfields. It was inevitable that I would be calling Len after I graduated from WVU in 1978 and went to work in local newspapers.
The relationship bet…

Library Days

The happiest days of my childhood, those I couldn't spend wandering the woods, were spent in a library.

The small town library in Randolph, NY, was started as a private library more than 100 years ago, and was chartered as a public library in 1918. That's where I encountered Rachel Carson on the shelves of Natural History, and where I read biography and history and poetry - but fiction was reserved downstairs for Adults Only. Luckily, my mother would venture into the basement to keep me stocked with novels.

My elementary school library was presided over by the estimable Mrs. Bohall, who made me a library aide. I enjoyed shelving books using the Dewey Decimal System, and still have the book (Ocelot) that I received as a gift at the end of the school year.

The high school library led me to encounters with The Once and Future King, Uhuru, On the Beach, and The Lord of the Rings, while the James Prendergast Library in Jamestown offered opera recordings (and The Who) as well as a lab…

The Gift and the Challenge

Into the deep past, into ourselves

I stopped by Cliff Garstang's blog to leave a guest post - you can read about the experience of having a long out-of-print novel come back to life here.

Bag a copy of a classic!

That's how Permuted Press thinks of it...
The folks who want us to "Enjoy the Apocalypse" are bringing back classic post-apocalyptic novels of the '70s and '80s, including my 1988 debut novel, Neena Gathering. It will appear May 28 as an e-book, and as an Audible book voiced by the wonderful Cassandra Morris.

To celebrate its new life after 25 years out of print, I'm doing a Goodreads giveaway - two signed copies of that original Pageant paperback with cover art by Keith Parkinson.
Go here to enter! And visit Amazon to pre-order the Audible book.

A visit by a dear friend - for National Poetry Month!