Sunday
Jan052014

Cat-O'-Nine-Tails

Yes, whip me forty lashes with a cat-o'-nine-tails. I haven't posted since October. If anyone still checks to see if there is anything fresh here--Dad?--you win the kewpy doll prize.

Why has it been so long? I have no excuse. I have what I shall offer as one. I worked hard to finish my novel before the literary agent who promised she would look at it forgot her promise. I did and she didn't. I did finish it, that is, and she didn't forget her promise. And wonder of wonders, she liked it and wants to represent the novel and me as she peddles it to the New York publishing houses.

I've been working on rewrites for her, and on storylines for books II and III as ammunition to take with her. The title of the noir novel is But Not For Me.

Stay tuned.

Saturday
Oct122013

At the Ozark

I'm at the Ozark Creative Writers Conference in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Some call this place the Ozark Alps. The place itself is beautiful and historic, the conference a good one. It's been the sight of some of my biggest writing successes over the last five years, including the OCW's top writing award, a book publishing contract, and a connection to a New York Literary agent.

Getting noticed and published requires that a person write well. But that's only the beginning. A common theme for this year's Ozark is the difficulty getting published for any writer. It's not for the easily discouraged or feint of heart.

Dr. Susan Swartout, profeesor, publisher of the Southeast Missouri State University Press and the Big Muddy Magazine says, like sports, getting published is a game, and there is an element of luck. The better you are the more chances you have to win, but you WILL lose. And like sports, you don't quit after your first loss.

Agent Jim Donovan, who represents writers who often rise on the NY Times bestsellers list relates stories of clients aggravations before they found a book deal. Author Stephen Harrington once told a group of writers lamenting the difficulties of finding a publisher for their work, "If you want to do something easy, take up brain surgery."

I have finished my first novel and I search for a publisher. And I believe I'm a little too ADHD for brain surgery.

So it goes..... 

 

Saturday
Sep142013

Pretty Baby

I've never thought new born babies were particularly good looking, including my own son and daughter. Sure I say all of the right things, and I smile and coo and admire. Lip service.

I'm only talking about attractiveness, the skin-deep beauty of looks here. 

New borns are wondrous. Their tiny hands and feet flail as they begin to learn life on the outside. Watching them, holding them, one can see the struggle to comprehend, the joy when provided with something to suck on. They are fascinating and easy to love. But beautiful? Only in the eyes of the beholder with a stake in  their lives.

Give them a few weeks, and the physical beauty begins to develop. Yesterday I visited my son Conor and his wife Lauren, in Omaha. I met my 19 hours-old grandson, Gavin Joseph Kline, for the first time.

What a beautiful new born baby boy! Sometime in the future he'll be handsome like his brother Nikolas. But today Gavin is a pretty baby, a strikingly beautiful baby.    

Saturday
Aug172013

My Sentiments Exactly

I heard a quote by Bill Moyer the other day. Let me set it up. There a so many things screwed-up about our political system that it would take a treatise to properly address them. I'll just briefly touch on one.

Realatively recently the Supreme Court, in a 5 - 4 decision, announced that corporations are people. Therefore limits on campaign contributions by corporations are unconstitutional. So now, as a person, a corporation can spend any amount of money it likes to make sure the candidate amenable to their desires gets elected. Once the candidate takes office he/she better please the corporate "person" or the "person" will spend huge amounts to nix their chances in the next election. Sound like buying public officals?

It's quite a stretch for the 5 conservative members of the court to declare a multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporation the same as an individual. Bill Moyers weighed in on it the other day. He said:

   "I'll believe a corporation is a person when Texas executes one."

Tuesday
Aug062013

Major League Baseball for Beginners: Lesson 21

Baseball cliché: Baseball is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.

 And it is, even more so than hockey or basketball. 162 games in 180 days. 81 games on the road, three full months out of six staying in hotels and eating elsewhere than your own home. Grueling, drudgery, and all of those other similar words apply. Only once do players get more than one consecutive scheduled day off, at all-star break.

 The Royals have won 11 of their last 12 games, and are at 14–3 since the all-star break.

 Unlike football or basketball (not sure about hockey with all of their ties) the best teams, the “winners,” only win about six out of ten games. The worst only losing a fraction more than six games out of ten. So weird things can happen during such a long season. Good teams can go flat for a couple of weeks and lose 10 out of 12. Bad teams can look like good ones for a stretch.

 It is said that good pitching stops good hitting most of the time. So a team with good pitching rarely has long losing streaks, because even if their bats go silent, their good pitching will keep the scores low and give them a chance to win. The last time the Royals had good pitching was in 1994. They have good pitching now. They lead the American League in earned run average (ERA), which is the number of runs scored per nine innings without the help of fielding errors (balls that should have been caught but were dropped, wild throws, etc.). The last time the Royals lead the league in ERA, was their championship season of 1985.

 The Royals offense was woefully bad through the end of May (1/3 of the way through the marathon). So bad that they had losing streaks even with the best pitching (lost 19 of 23 at one point). The Royals were supposed to have slightly above average hitting and about average pitching. So both the great pitching and the shit-pile hitting were surprises. In June the hitting started to come around and pitching stayed strong. The Royals have the best record in the American League since June 10th. But on June 10 the Royals treaded water at the bottom of a deep, dark pit. They are currently 5th in the race for a wild card playoff berth. The top two are selected. As it stands now, the Royals would have to pass three of the following: Cleveland, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Texas.

 But here’s the deal. The last time the Royals played meaningful games in August – games where they still had a chance – was in 2003. The next to the last time was 1994. Of the four major professional sports leagues (includes hockey) the KC Royals are the franchise that has gone the longest without a playoff appearance – 28 years.

 The author of lesson #21, a long-suffering KC baseball fan who remains a fan during the darkest eclipse, is excited to see the sun in August.