P.G. Holyfield

So I’ve been thinking all day about what I could possibly say. I overslept this morning. The alarm went off at 5:30, like it always does, but I decided to rest another five minutes before getting my first cup of coffee. Next thing I knew, it was 6:25. I went downstairs, poured a cup and sat down with my phone, planning to read the New York Times. For some reason, though, I had Facebook open, so I started to skim that instead. And that was how I found out that my friend P.G. Holyfield is fighting for his life.

I don’t remember whether or not I met him at my first Dragon*Con in 2008, though I clearly remember him being at a couple of parties I went to. The following winter and spring, I mainlined the podcast of Murder At Avedon Hill, and somehow I finangled my way into a very very small part in one of the last episodes. After that, I knew I had to meet the guy behind this tour-de-force – a captivating world, a gripping story, and a sonic artistic achievement far beyond anything I could hope to produce. I found a guy who is quiet but friendly and gracious, and often very funny. We roomed together at Dragon*Con 2010. Alcohol loosened my tongue and I talked his ears off. His tolerance for me was commendable. Continue reading

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This is What Life as a Red Sox Fan Does To People

Michaela Murphy told this terrific story on The Moth about growing up in a house full of Red Sox fans and her adventure taking her younger brother to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Find more excellent stories on The Moth at www.themoth.org.

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My children are grown, and I’ve noticed something interesting over the past year. The youngest is 19 and about to start his second year of college; the older two are living on their own. From December 1988 until August 2013, my days were filled with working and my sons. Diapers, risk management when they learned to walk, toys, looking for lost toys, bedtime stories, school, and sports. Lots and lots of sports. I enjoy sports even though my talents for them came from the shallow end of the gene pool, so I also enjoyed watching the boys play. Baseball, basketball, soccer – it was fun. Time-consuming, and not always played in what one would call pleasant weather conditions, but fun. Still, more than once I found myself thinking, as I was driving to another game in Rome (New York, that is,) that a break from all this would be nice. I’d get to do activities that I chose, rather than having them foisted on me by my sons’ schedules.

So now they’re grown and mostly out of the house, and I have the opportunity to do what I want on a Saturday night. And you know what?

I can’t pick out anything I want to do. That’s right: Faced with what parents of younger children see as “freedom,” my response is – meh. Continue reading

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Things That Have Happened To Me Lately

It’s been many moons since I posted something here, and it’s not been because my life has been dull. I sit down to write blog posts sometimes and I draw a blank. I feel like I should write something edgy, hard-hitting, opinionated, something to stir the pot. Jeez, my son Joel has started a popular blog that turned into an occasional gig writing for The Week. He’s already had a commenter call him a moron. I’ll admit to being more than a little jealous.

However, since I don’t really feel like piling on with my thoughts about the Supreme Court’s ludicrous laughable controversial Hobby Lobby decision yesterday, I’ll just lay some of my recent adventures on you … Continue reading

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Random Spec-Fic Geneology

Around ...Submitted for your consideration: A trail of speculative fiction movie connections. Starting with …

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), which starred, among others, Samuel L. Jackson, who also appeared in …

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005), which also featured Ewan McGregor, who also appeared in an episode of …

Tales from the Crypt (1989 – 96), another episode of which starred Richard Thomas, who in 1990 starred in …

Stephen King’s It (1990), a made-for-TV movie that also cast in a supporting role Seth Green, who for three years had a recurring role in … Continue reading

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Sometimes You Just Have To Talk These Things Through…

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Automotive Memories

20140330-203147.jpgI bought a car yesterday. My trusted 2004 Camry runs just as well as it ever has, but I learned 10 days ago that it will not pass the emission control test when it gets inspected (its current inspection sticker expires tomorrow.) The estimated cost of restoring it to compliance is $3,700, as a goodly chunk of the exhaust system needs replacing.

The car has given me more than 143,000 good miles with very little trouble. However, the cost-benefit analysis pointed to replacing it. The cost of the repair is greater than its value, and this likely would not be the last repair. So, yesterday I made a deposit on a 2013 Camry with low mileage. The dealer and I agreed on a fair price. Continue reading

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Art For Art’s Sake; Money For God’s Sake

Money vs. Art

Courtesy of LitReactor.com

Very interesting blog posts on similar topics in the last couple of days from Philippa Ballantine and Jennifer Povey. Kind of interesting because, though they both live in Northern Virginia, I’m not sure they’ve ever met. Their minds seem to think alike, though. Pip wrote earlier today about the incessant argument about which is better, art or commerce:

Here’s the truth of it. Many, many writers have had to walk away from writing, or even died while waiting for some commerce to come their way. My favourite poets died waiting to be paid for the work they did. (I always thought it was a cruel trick of fate that their best career move was shuffling off their mortal coil.) So yes, the people who make their living off writing do not have the luxury of waxing philosophical about art. They make it about work. Craft and passion are damn useful, but the writer is the master of words, the words are not the master of him or her. Art and passion are all very well, but books (at least the ones you plan to sell) must also be a commodity.

Jenna posted yesterday in a similar vein, but she focused on what writers should choose to write, i.e., writing something that appeals to the author vs. writing something the author believes will sell in the current market:

There’s nothing wrong with considering marketability when deciding what idea to work on next. Writing something you don’t enjoy because you think it will sell, though, is likely to produce a low quality book. Following a fad is just going to leave you behind. Write something you enjoy and make it as good as possible – there’s luck involved, of course, but you still have a better chance than by blindly following trends. Continue reading

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Pete Seeger

I was 15 years old when I heard a Pete Seeger album for the first time. Looking back on it, I think it’s kind of amazing that old-fashioned, conservative Afton, New York, a place that probably hasn’t elected a Democrat as mayor since the Civil War, actually had a Pete Seeger album in the high school library. I knew who he was from all the reading I’d done, but I’d never before heard the reedy voice accompanied by twelve-string guitar or plucky banjo.

The man was my grandparents’ age, but I was so enthralled by the music that I didn’t even notice. The voice and the songs were so genuine, so heartfelt, and so warm and inviting that they just captivated me. Whether he was leading a chorus of hundreds in We Shall Overcome or singing the Cuban popular song Guantanamera (hey, I thought, we sing that in chorus!), I loved them all. Continue reading

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Preview of My Latest Novel

I am in the midst of shopping my latest novel, tentatively titled And Ghosts Return, to literary agents. In the mean time, I thought I’d give you a taste of it by posting the first chapter. I’d love to hear what you think! Leave any comments you care to in the comments section. Here it is.

The lawn
Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return
Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn,
The sad intangible who grieve and yearn….

T.S. ELIOT, To Walter de la Mare

Chapter 1: Let’s Spend the Night Together

The bottle of Bordeaux popped from the wine rack and missed Ethan’s head by inches. Again. I hate poltergeists, he thought as he swung around to his right.

The wine cellar was so dark that he feared he wouldn’t see the shards of glass and spilt wine on the stone floor. The footing was already treacherous from the remains of the first bottle the spirit had tossed at him. He regretted wearing boots; sneakers might have given him a better grip.

“Who are you?” he called. When no reply came after several seconds, he added, “Are you Richard Masterson? Tap once if yes, twice if no.”

Still no reply. Continue reading

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