Posts Tagged ‘Mark Twain’

Good Stuff

on March 31, 2014 in Misc 10 Comments »

mark_twain sitting

This week I’ve got one old piece of good stuff for you and one new piece.  First the old….

This last week I came across a fact about Mark Twain that made me feel good.  Did you know Twain had trouble becoming a full-time, professional writer?  He’d been slogging away as a reporter in San Francisco and Hawaii (okay, Hawaii was a blast for him), but his writing gigs still didn’t pay enough and he was poor and in debt.   That’s when he wondered if he should go on the lecture circuit.  What he had in mind was to give a humorous presentation about his experiences in Hawaii.  His writer friends were dead set against this and insisted it would ruin his literary reputation.  His former newspaper boss asked him, “Which do you need most at present, money or literary reputation?”  Twain answered “Money!”

So Twain went on the stage and became a kind of traveling nineteenth century stand-up comic.  And thus a great American writer was born.  Not with a lucrative publishing deal or a bestseller, but with personal appearances that gave him enough fame and money to launch his book career.  In other words, he established a platform first, a very distinct public persona, and THEN he wrote his books.

Maybe this isn’t good new for me after all.  All these years I’ve been concentrating on just writing.  Ah, dang!



The other good–no, WONDERFUL–piece of news is that Hart Johnson’s newest cozy mystery KEEPING MUM is out.  Having read her first two books in this series, I can tell you that I’m eager to read the latest adventure of Cam Harris and her pals as they rush to solve another brain-teasing murder.  There will be drama.  There will be humor.  There will be lots of colorful characters with suspicious behavior….

See, Roanoke, Virginia, may seem civilized and lovely, but underneath the flowery surface lurks lust and jealousy and anger and greed, and all kinds of other motivations that make bad people off other people.  KEEPING MUM is written under Hart’s pen name Alyse Carlson, and it’s available everywhere.  I bought it at my local bookstore, ’cause I’m an old fashioned woman who loves my indie shops.

And of course stop by to say hi to Hart at her always entertaining blog, Confessions of a Watery Tart.  (Sorry I can’t make the link work.  I’m still trying figure out my latest version of Word Press.)

Have any good news yourself this last week, or coming up?  I’d love to hear about it.


Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Dorothy Parker

Sometimes in writers’ blogs the issue of cuss words and blasphemy and other fun literary details raises its head and commenters take pro or anti stands.  I thought of this issue yet again when, a few days ago, Carol Kilgore over at Under the Tiki Hut had a guest writer who had come up with an original and clever way to avoid language she found offensive.  (The writer is Colby Marshall  and her book is a thriller called Chain of Command.)

Personally, I believe that writers should have the freedom to tell their stories in whatever way they please.  As for my own writing, I can tell you that I seldom use four-letter words but find it impossible to avoid them, and in my day-to-day life I sure as hell use them.  But while I’m not the squeaky clean sort, I thought it’d be fun to pay poetic homage to an invented writer who is.


There once was a writer who wouldn’t

Use swear words or blaspheme and couldn’t

Take the Lord’s name in vain

and would frequently strain

To use much cleaner words when he shouldn’t.


For scatology he’d substitute

The word feces, crap, doo-doo or poop.

Merde was too French,

Turd had an odd stench,

And anything stronger was moot


The F word he held as most crude.

His characters never are lewd,

Hence intercourse, coitus

Or shag interruptus

Are banned, and no one is screwed.


Okay, I shoulda written another verse or two, but that’s all I could come up with on a Sunday night.

So in closing, and in the spirit of this subject, I’m giving you a joke one writer played on his friend.  Our cleanest and dirtiest fellow writers would enjoy it.

To the Editor: I would like to know what kind of goddamn govment this is that discriminates between two common carriers and makes a goddam railroad charge everybody equal and lets a goddam man charge any goddam price he wants to for his goddam opera box.

(signed) W.D. Howells

Howell, it is an outrage the way the govment is acting so I sent this complaint to N.Y. Times with your name signed because it would have more weight.

(signed) Mark Twain

Many Thanks

on November 29, 2010 in Misc 6 Comments »

As usual, Mark Twain said it best: “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”

This means I’ve got two good months ahead of me, ‘cause over the Thanksgiving weekend a cyber friend finished reading The Compass Master and not only gave it solid compliments, he reported that he ENJOYED reading it. And that’s what we writers truly want, isn’t it? Oh sure, sometimes we also wish to enlighten or move or outrage or just plain get a rise out of someone. But The Compass Master ain’t that kind of high-minded literary work. It’s a thriller. It supposed to be FUN!

I can’t express enough thanks to Robert Read, whom I met here on my blog when he started – many months ago – leaving insightful comments and lobbing challenging questions my way. Of course I should boast that I happily have INTELLIGENT readers who leave witty comments and several of whom have their own blogs (Hart, Ben and Ketutar, in particular).

Anyway, Robert is himself a writer with a couple of swell works under his belt: a charming, imaginative short story and an ENLIGHTENING YA novella. When he read my own (massively big) manuscript, he did so with care and objectivity, making notes throughout that I now have to address because – this will shock you – he discovered that my manuscript ISN’T PERFECT!

Of course we writers always want our readers or editors to decide that our works are flawless masterpieces of unparalleled literary quality and please don’t change a word. Of course in my dreams I also like to think that Hugh Jackman is in love with me. Anyway, what made Robert’s criticisms and praises so helpful was that he was very specific. He points out, for example, that this description is lame, or that line of dialogue doesn’t work, or maybe this isn’t the type of gun the bad guy should use. About 95% of his criticisms I can correct in one weekend of work, which is a huge relief for me. The remaining 5% I should have done before Christmas.

Therefore in this time of Thanksgiving (okay, I’m a few days late), I wish to give a big honkin’ turkey thanks to Robert both for his generous critiquing of Compass and for sharing his own marvelous works with me. I also want to thank all of you for hanging in there through my literary and Layla ups and downs. And believe me, I LOVE following your blogs and hearing about your own lives and just plain hearing from you.

May the fairy godmother of literary success bless us all.