Got Them Ol’ Stuck Inside Down Home Blues, Mama!

PublixLike many of us, my wife and I have been in lockdown. For the first time, in a week we ventured out this morning for food shopping at Publix. There were plenty of people there, but most tried to keep a reasonable distance from each other.  Paper products, sanitizers, pasta, bread, frozen veggies, meats (for meat lovers), some can foods were in short supply or non-existent. We probably got enough of everything needed to hunker down for two weeks before venturing out again.

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So the question becomes what to do while hibernating at home? For me, I find myself with more than enough to keep myself busy. The morning routine hasn’t changed: breakfast, read the headlines, check emails, social media and hopefully do some writing, editing and plenty of rewriting! By now, lunchtime is here, and these days I look for a movie to watch. Over the past few days, I’ve seen The Meyerowitz Stories, Agatha, Agatha and the Truth of Murder, Blow the Man Down, and the Gift. After the movie, it’s time to doing some reading, either articles I have been saving and need to catch up on or a book. I am currently reading D. H. Schleicher’s collection of 11 short stories, And Then We Vanish. After dinner, my wife and I watch a TV show. At that point, we’re both back to reading or social media.

And Then
Oh yeah, there is one other thing that keeps both me and my wife busy. As some of you know, over the past two years we lost four of our five cats. Three to cancer! Our one remaining cat, Natasha, has been on her own since last September. Well, a little over a week ago we adopted an almost 12-year-old, handsome boy by the name of Skeeter. He’s laid back and sweet. Currently, we have him isolated to one room while he acclimates himself and we can work on the introduction between Natasha and her new brother. Anyway, my wife and I take turns during the day spending time with him.

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Skeeter

Along with all this, there is my photography! We’ve put taking photos and travel on hold for now. We canceled a long time planned trip to Alaska scheduled for this coming July. Disappointing, but considering the circumstances we are in, it’s the right thing to do.  So, in my spare time, I will work on some photos that have been ignored for a long time, and any new work will be limited to photographing our two cats! That should keep me busy!
If you stuck at home, which most of us are or should be, make the best of it,  stay active, discover things to do and stay safe!

Stay Safe, Stay Connected!

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These are dangerous times. People are hunkering down, I know I am. My wife and I are only venturing outside our home when it is necessary, canceling all non-essential appointments, travel and more. It’s stressful and isolating.

Fortunately, we live in a time where staying at home does not mean you cannot communicate. Take advantage of it with family and friends. Call them, text or email. Keep the lines of communication open.

And please follow what our medical experts are advising: social distancing, washing your hands, staying home, have two weeks of food on hand (don’t hoard), and don’t forget your pets!

Stay safe and stay connected!

John 

The Late Show…And Other Tales of Celluloid Malice; A Short Story Collection by John Greco

A great review from ALL THINGS THRILLER!

All Things Thriller

John Greco loves movies.

Uh-huh. Lot’s of us do.

He writes about movies.

Yeah? Good for him. There are hundreds…no…thousands of movie blogs out there.

John Greco is a cinephile.

Oh no. Not another film snob going on and on about camera angles and 35 millimeter film…

Okay. Stop it. John’s not that guy.

Yes he’s an encyclopedia of cinema and of film techniques, all of which he presents in a very friendly, accessible way on his superb blog twentyfourframes.

But this post isn’t about his blog. This post is about John Greco the author because, first and foremost, John is a writer of fiction. And what a fine writer he is.

In his third published compilation, The Late Show, John has mined his passion for film in a taunt, page turning collection of eight short stories inspired by classic cinema and reminiscent of the golden age of television (e.g.,

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Book Review: The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke

Smoke

Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr is one of my favorite fictional characters. This short story, co-written with Lynn Wood Block who as Mr. Block explains came up with the original idea and did the research. He later sat down and wrote the story.

Bernie Rhodenbarr, used bookstore owner and master thief, meets with Karl Bellermann, an eccentric book collector. Karl’s books are the most important things in his life. Bernie’s there to offer Karl a rare special edition to add to his collection in return for a nice price. Upon his arrival Karl shows Bernie his private library containing his massive collection and tells him of the great lengths he has gone to protect his books from any sort of thief or man-made or natural disaster.

Bernie and Karl have lunch together. Afterward, before any transaction can proceed, it’s time for the eccentric collector to lock himself in his library to read for four hours, something he does like clockwork every day from 2PM to 6PM.

During this four hour interlude, Bernie gets a bit “familiar” with Karl’s beautiful wife. The time passes quickly. When Karl’s wife realizes it’s almost 6PM and her husband will be exiting his book room right on time like he always does, it’s panic time! She jumps out of bed, gets dressed and runs downstairs. The panic increases when the always punctual Karl does not come out of the library at exactly 6PM as he always does. Something’s wrong. Something’s very wrong.

Lawrence Block has written a fascinating short story, a locked room mystery both absorbing and with an ending carefully explained. The one problem is there are only a few characters making the ‘who done it’ part rather evident but that does not negate from enjoying this tale.

Book Review: The Sublime Life

Sublime  In Jenna Moquin’s short story, The Sublime Life, we meet Deke Mueller. Deke is an aspiring writer, but he fears success. He learned early on bad things can happen. You see, Deke’s mother was an author too and right after she became a success she died of pancreatic cancer. Deke fears life will repeat itself and his life will also be cut short if he is successful. He rather be a living failure than a dead success. Jenna Moquin has created a cautionary tale focusing on the fear of success. You want it but at what cost. Many creative artists fear both failure and success and will easily relate.

A Glimpse of Possibilities – John Lennon

Creative by Nature

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“The thing the sixties did was to show us the possibilities and the responsibility that we all had. It wasn’t the answer. It just gave us a glimpse of the possibility.

Love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep on watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.

We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight. Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.

You don’t need anybody to tell you who you are or what you are. You…

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In Memory of Braveheart

Braveheart Fixed-He was aptly named. He was brave and he had a precious sweet loving heart. Braveheart was given his name by RaeAnna Saks of The Little Cats’ Rescue. He was only six months old living in the woods protecting his brother and others. BH was trapped and taken in by RaeAnna. He came to live with us about ten years ago. During that time, we had the pleasure of having him as a loving part of our feline family.

On Friday the 13th, less than two months after we lost our beloved Rollo, Braveheart left us, his body eaten away by cancer. We didn’t want to let him go, but we didn’t want him to suffer. He toughed it out but it got to a point where we knew it was time. Braveheart was two weeks shy of his 18th birthday.

 

#AnthraxAndCherryBlossoms Published by @millandonemag

A terrific short story from David H. Schleicher

The Schleicher Spin

The good folks over at A Million and One Magazine have published my latest short story, Anthrax and Cherry Blossoms. This marks the second story of mine they have published this year, following Boko Haram’s Greatest Hits back in April.

Here’s an excerpt:

The weather couldn’t have been nicer, Melora thought, as she stood at Central Bank’s kiosk at the D. C. Cherry Blossom Festival parade. Central Bank was one of the co-sponsors of the event, and she, the branch manager of the location closest to the parade route, was there with a few young and eager interns from corporate marketing. They were handing out swag and signing up people for new accounts on a tablet device. Yes, the weather was beautiful, but in her mind chaotic thoughts still stormed…or was that just a hangover? Last night she had driven nearly an hour out into the suburbs to a place called…

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Before the Darkness: Thoughts on Earlier Writing

A good read from author David H. Schleicher

The Schleicher Spin

Don’t ever let them tell you life is short, Ty. Life is long and people do lots of things. Some of them good. Some of them bad. And sometimes these things catch up to people. And sometimes that takes a long time.  – Evelyn Kydd, from Then Came Darkness

The arc of a writer’s life is long, too. You have to write a lot of bad stuff (and read a lot of good stuff) before you learn how to write well.

I’ve been writing since I was seven years-old (my first story was a melodrama about a jewel heist) and I’ve shoveled my fair share of crap, including countless twisted tales during middle and high school, and three highly questionable and amateur novels I rushed to market during the infancy of the self-publishing craze right after college before I finally wrote some good stuff, The Thief Maker

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What Draws You In, Character or Plot?

Maine Crime Writers

Today, we’re discussing a question posed by one of our readers. She asked which did we think drew readers into a book–the plot, or the characters. Here are some of our thoughts on the subject.

Bruce Robert Coffin: Great question! I have always felt the need for a one to one mix of those two ingredients. A great plot will always intrigue me, but characters I care about tend to keep me coming back for more, muy importante if one is seeking a sustainable series.

Lea Wait: I agree with Bruce: both are important. (Setting, and it’s influence on both plot and character, is also very important.) But I also believe the degree of importance of each element depends on the book itself. For a stand-alone, plot is essential. Suspense? Absolutely. Readers need to anticipate — or at minimum be curious about — what will come next. Characters? Victims…

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