Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, July 30, 2010

How does Wright write right?

The worst thing a writer can do is add some element to his story merely because the real-life events on which the story is based actually happened that way. Real life is not realistic. Real life is filled with strange and baffling coincidences. Real life is startling and defeats all expectations and accounts. In real life, the wicked prosper and the good are punished. In other words, real life is not believable. If you must introduce a realistic element in a story, by which I mean an unlikely and impossible coincidence, then introduce it at the beginning, or make up some believable excuse to shoehorn it into your tale in a fashion the readers will accept: such as a gypsy curse.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The 24th of July

Yeah, I know it's the 25th, but I'm behind. 

John Thomas Flynn, my grandfather's grandfather, was born in the early 1840s to Martin Flynn of Loughrea, Co. Galway, and his wife Honora Mahoney.  Martin was born ca. 1803 in either Loughrea or the nearby townland of Kilnadeema.  There are Flynns today still living in that area, and other scattered from Australia to Canada to Britain.  The story, told by a John Flynn of Ballinlough, Co. Roscommon, the old stronghold of the O'Flainn of Sil Maelruain, is that after the Cromwell War, one widowed Flynn mother was given the option of continuing to live in the family home provided she paid rent to the new English landlord.  Rather than do such a thing, "she took her family to live with her relatives down near Loughrea."  Apparently my family is descended from a stubborn old lady.  Much is thereby explained. 

The baptismal records of Loughrea list only five children for Martin and Honora: Mary, Martin, Mary, Martin, and Bridget.  There are no earlier records, but there is other evidence of an oldest brother named Patrick. 

Why there were two Marys and two Martins is suggested by their baptismal dates: 1842 and 1844 for the first two, and 1850 and 1853 for the second two.  What happened between Martin 1 and Mary 2 was the Great Hunger.  It is not a stretch to suppose that the first Mary and Martin died in the famine. 


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Silly Season

Why amateurs should avoid tampering with a system devised by folks way smarter than they are:

The Wall Street Journal mentions:
The General Court of Massachusetts "is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote," the Boston Globe reports:
Under the proposed law, all 12 of the state's electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.
If only they'd thought of this 40 years ago, Richard Nixon could have won 50 states in 1972.

So, call it the "MASS Voters Should Just Stay Home Law," because they could vote unanimously for, say, a Democrat, but would be forced to cast their ballots for a Republican if the Republican did well outside the Northeast. 

Friday, July 16, 2010

Who Do You Write Like?

Or is that Whom do you write like? 

Paste a sample of your writing into the box here: iwl.me/b/d7939cdb

and it will tell you which other writer your text resembles. 

I tried out the opening scene from IN THE LION'S MOUTH

The winds whistling o’er the breasts of the D┼Źngodair Hills carry much of the loneliness that can be found in those remote peaks and scatter it like pollen across the eastern plains, so that the Beastie boys, and the Nolan Beasts they tend, suck it in with every breath, and even the bluestem and inching grass, and the rip-gut in the wet bottomlands whose leaves are serrated knives soak up despair like sunshine and release it to the breeze.  Thus it is that the rustle of the tallgrass can wring a sigh from a strong man and drive a lonely woman to weeping. .............

and was told I write like someone named David Foster Wallace.  I prefer to think he writes like me.  He wrote a book titled Brief Interviews with Hideous Men which is a title that I would have loved to have thought of for myself.

Let me try another section of the book.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Mean Streets of Old Alexandria

A linked series of posts on the LJ site beginning here: http://m-francis.livejournal.com/159500.html

detailing the life and times of Hypatia of Alexandria, including the looting of the Serapeum by the Arian Patriarch George, the murder of George by the pagans, the Deconstruction of the Serapeum by Inperial Troops, the teachings of Hypatia, the Massacre of the Christians by the Jews, the Expulsion of the Jews, the Attack on the Imperial Prefect, the Murder of Hypatia, the Aftermath, and the Sources. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

From a common argument:  “Evolution shows that human life does not have a privileged value”.

Say it’s true that the process of evolution gives no value to human life. It would be odd to think it was supposed to. The process of baking doesn’t set the value or price of chocolate cake either.
-- James Chastek

The Glorious Eighth

comes on the 11th this year. 

On the 8th of July 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read aloud in public in Philadelphia, Trenton, and in Easton PA.  Easton held a public celebration


The Easton Flag.  Said to be the device displayed on 8 July 1776
The flag itself, preserved at the Easton Public Library, can be authenticated only to the War of 1812, when it was carried by Capt. Horne's Company of the City Guard. 

The event is celebrated as Heritage Day, and includes a public reading of the Declaration, song and dance, and a big fireworks display on the river. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Odds and Ends

1. Bale Star.  I am writing up a proposal for a fifth Firestar book.  I am leaning toward Bale Star as a title, suggested by a couple of folks.  Captain Rosario will feature.  So will Chase Coughlin's son.  So will Sojourner Truth.  Some chapter titles come to mind:
The Search for Truth
In Panic Town on the Backward Moon

A Curious Coincidence

The comic strip Non Sequitur currently features a strange flying creature who feasts on sinful thoughts:


Perceptive and faithful readers of Flynn will recognize this as the idea behind the story "The Feeders" in The Forest of Time and Other Stories.  Except that when the flying creatures feasted on the emotions, the person did not suddenly lose them.  And the story was not comic. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Glorious Fourth





To celebrate, let's all sing together the anthem we had unofficially before the Star Spangled Banana; viz., Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean:



Saturday, July 3, 2010

3 July 1863, Gettysburg PA


Monument of the 153rd Pennsylvania Volunteers, "Northampton's Own,"
Maj. John F. Frueauff commanding, vice Col. Charles Glantz (captured at Chancellorsville). 


1st Brigade (von Gilsa), 1st Div../11TH ("Dutch") Corps. 
The Regiment held the flank on "Barlow's Knob" on the afternoon of 1 July 1863 until outflanked by Jubal Early's division.  It took position along the lane at the eastern foot of Cemetery Hill, where it remained until the close of the battle, assisting in the repulse of Early's assault on the night of 2 July 1863.