Silver City Blues Festival Shines Again

One of the advantages of living in Silver City, New Mexico is the annual Blues Festival (now known as the Blues and Bike Festival). What’s really special is that it’s FREE! This was the 21st in the long history of blues festivals here, sponsored by the Mimbres Arts Council. It happens every Memorial Day Weekend from Friday evening through Sunday late afternoon (7 pm this year). A large crowd of (peaceful) bikers show up on their Harleys, Hondas and other bikes. Plenty of visitors join the locals for the music.

This year, the Taj Mahal Trio headlined Saturday night, from 7:30 to 9 pm with their slow blues. We really liked Zac Harmon, who preceded Taj Mahal. On Sunday we caught award-winning soul blues singer Missy Andersen and her band. We missed some other great bands or heard parts of their performances: the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Harlis Sweetwater Band, Edie Steed and the Roadrunners, Heather “Lil Mama” Hardy and more.

Here’s a short clip of Missy Andersen:

If you can’t live here, at least you should come visit! There’s lots of art galleries, some decent restaurants and other special events like the annual tour of the Gila (bicycle race), craft festivals, chocolate fantasia and more.
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The New Eagle Peak Press–Coming June 1!

Yes, it’s almost here–Eagle Peak Press with a renewed focus on the Quarterly. By the way, the quarterly schedule has changed to March, June, September and December.

With the move from a Joomla powered site to WordPress comes a great new look. But it’s not just better looking, it’s got more functionality and more features.

  • The Eagle Peak Quarterly has a new cover each issue
  • The Quarterly page has excerpts from each article
  • Past issues have an easily accessible page–click on a cover to see that issue, with the same kind of excerpts as the current issue
  • More widgets with more information top to bottom
  • Encouraging words, videos, weblinks and more

There’s too much to tell you and not enough room to show you. You will just have to go there on June 1! Note: If you go there right now you will see a coming soon countdown message. 

When Doves Cry? When Prince Has Died

I spent 20 of my first 27 years, off and on, in Minnesota. Most of them in Minneapolis. I left before Prince began his musical career there. Still, I will miss his great creative musical genius. The commentators give short shrift to the contributions of Minnesota musicians–singling out Bob Dylan and Prince. Of course there are lesser luminaries like Spider John Koerner, Leo Kottke and more. In fact, Minneapolis is ranked second out of 50 music scenes in America. Of course that’s not for superstars; it’s for locals who are able to give good music to those who live there. Back in the day there were clubs such as the Depot, which seated less than a couple hundred. There such people as Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels,  Frank Zappa with the full Mothers entourage, including Flo and Eddie performed. Still today is the day to recall and mourn the passing of Prince.

So here’s a video of Prince performing When Doves Cry, live.

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Free Promotional Opportunity for Authors

If there is one thing that all authors need, it’s PR for their books. If there’s one thing readers need, it’s information about books they might like to read. So if you’re an author AND a reader (which you should be if you want to be a better writer) here’s a reminder about a great free site that you can participate in:

Here’s a sample of just part of what Snowflakes in a Blizzard (a little commentary about the ease of having prospective readers for your books) will post in it’s free promo of your book.

Steele Secrets

OUR OTHER FEATURED BOOK, “WE DARE NOT WHISPER,” BY JAN NETOLICKY, CAN BE FOUND BY SCROLLING DOWN BELOW THIS POST, ALONG WITH THE FIRST TUESDAY REPLAY.

———————-

THE BOOK: Steele Secrets

PUBLISHED IN: 2016


THE AUTHOR:
  Andi Cumbo-Floyd

THE EDITOR
: Laurie Jensen

THE PUBLISHER
: Independently Published Through CreateSpace.

SUMMARY:  When Mary Steele mysteriously finds herself in an old cemetery down the road from her house in a tiny mountain town, she’s not concerned. She’s not even frightened when a ghost named Moses approaches her, or when she has a standoff with a bulldozer. But when her inquiries into the history of the cemetery and the people buried there begin to draw out the worst in the members of her community, Mary begins to be afraid. Will she be able to recover history while keeping the people she loves safe?

Steele Secrets is a story of American history and racism, slavery and family, and the way mystery can lead us to healing. While completely fictional,the book is drawn from real life events where cemeteries have been destroyed – or under threat – because people do not know who is buried in them or do not care. Whether the cemeteries are in urban neighborhoods or in rural countryside, many slave cemeteries in particular and African American cemeteries in specific are under threat.  These themes, historical and current events, and questions about whose responsibility it is to save these historic places are drawn together in the novel.

Continue reading

So how do you get YOUR book featured? Go to this link. Note also, that site owner and fellow writer periodically reposts authors and their book(s). He puts up 2-3 books per week.

 

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Don’t Frack with Mother Nature

For the first time, in its 2016 quake hazard forecast , the U.S. Geological Survey has included human-induced earthquakes. Notably, quakes have increased dramatically in Oklahoma in the last 10-15 years to the point where the hazard now approaches that of California.USGS map showing 2016 quake hazards

Why? Primarily because of deep injection of wastewater associated with oil drilling. The very salty and toxic mineral laden wastewater comes up with and is separated from the oil. Because of the need to avoid polluting aquifers and groundwater, the wastewater must be injected deep into the earth. The injection sites are NOT ones that had previously been drilled. Because of the volume of material injected the increased pressure on the rock formations can induce earthquakes that might not otherwise have occurred.

The USGS notes that “fracking,” the hydraulic fracturing of rock using high pressure injection of brine to recover oil, is rarely the cause of such induced quakes. Nonetheless, opponents of fracking are inclined to think it very well might be. They are also concerned about the pollution of groundwater and wells near the fracking sites. Perhaps you have seen the videos of people lighting the natural gas coming out of the taps in their homes.  The natural gas is arguably present due to fracking in the area.

Battlestar Galactica, decades ago, started the euphemism “frack” for that other F word associated with sex. Since then, countless other TV shows picked it up. I’m not sure whether the term frack as applied to drilling came before or after the euphemism for sex. I suspect it came later. In any case, this obvious conclusion came to me yesterday at my local writing group:

Don’t frack with Mother Nature.

For more on this issue, see these items from the USGS:

http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/induced-earthquakes-raise-chances-of-damaging-shaking-in-2016/

http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/6-facts-about-human-caused-earthquakes/

You can also see this news feature on CNN Money.

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Brussels and Bozos

Yet another horrific terrorist attack has occurred. The deaths and injuries in Brussels have saddened and troubled people around the world. These all too frequent events happen across Europe, in Asia, Africa and sometimes in America as well. Most are directed or are inspired by ISIS and other terrorist groups which proclaim that their interpretation of the teachings of Islam justify them. Of course, the genuine Islamic faith practiced by millions of adherents throughout the world condemns, rather than encourages, the killing of innocent people. Likewise, the genuine believers condemn genocide perpetrated against the members of other religions, the raping and enslaving of women and girls. Despite my pacifistic beliefs, I am completely in support of killing the leaders of ISIS and their counterparts. Normally, I would prefer persuading such people of the error of their beliefs and their actions. In the case of those at the top of these groups that seems clearly futile. On the other hand, there are the bozos that would go way beyond simply targeting the leadership of such groups.

Who are they and why do I call them bozos? Well, one is Crazy Cruz. The other is Dim-Witted Donald. To call them clowns implies in one sense that they are somehow amusing. A train wreck is not funny. Nor is terrorism. Glib political responses to acts of terror and terrorism doesn’t make one a clown, but it does make one a bozo. Yes, there was a clown by that name. But the term has come to apply to someone who is stupid, rude or incompetent. Try looking it up in any number of dictionaries or Googling the term. You will see what I mean. It could take several thousand words to expand on all the ways that Cruz and Trump are bozos. So let’s just address their responses to the Brussels attack, to ISIS and to their perspective on people of the Islamic faith. That’s sufficient to qualify the epithet.

Ted Cruz says police should “patrol Muslim communities (in America) to prevent the residents from becoming radicalized!” He has also called for “carpet-bombing” ISIS inhabited areas in Syria and Iraq. Donald Trump has previously said he would quickly eliminate the ISIS threat by “bombing the s—t out of them.” In response to the Brussels attack he reiterated his proposed ban on all Muslims from entering the U.S. (No matter that there are many already here—including ones serving in Congress, the U.S. military, state and local government and law enforcement) and urged the use of waterboarding (at a minimum) to extract useful information from the Paris attack suspect arrested several days ago in Belgium.

First, terrorism is a tactic and sometimes a strategy. It’s been practiced throughout the world for centuries. It’s not the same as a conventional war between one country and another. It often happens within a civil war, whether the combatants agree to the description of the conflict as a civil war or not. If it were easily ended, the war in Syria would be over. If the answer to a cessation were simple, it would not have taken a few hundred years for the Protestants and the Catholics to stop fighting (including mutual use of terrorism) in Northern Ireland. If it were simple, Russia wouldn’t have left a fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan long before the United States went there for its own very long conflict.

How much bombing will stop terrorists, a civil war or some other insurgency? In my war, Vietnam, the U.S. and its allies dropped 2 ½ times the total tonnage of bombs that tiny country that were dropped during all of WW II! No, not exactly carpet-bombing, but it left the terrain like a moonscape. We did drop a serious amount of bombs on North Vietnam. Perhaps that led to the “successful” conclusion of the Paris Peace Talks—for which U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho won Nobel Peace Prizes. Kissinger took his and Le Duc Tho refused his—perhaps because he and the North were not intending to honor the treaty. It was dishonestly called by then President Richard Nixon as “Peace with Honor.”

I bring up Vietnam to correlate with Brussels. In South Vietnam, the National Liberation Front (its members more popularly known to Americans as Viet Cong) lived in and were supported by (not necessarily voluntarily or with eagerness) by villages. American soldiers and their allies wore uniforms; even without them, they were easily distinguished from the Viet Cong and the villagers. The VC didn’t typically wear uniforms. In Brussels, as in other cities across Europe, Muslims are not well assimilated or integrated into the general population. Instead, they are concentrated in communities of fellow believers. Like the VC, the ISIS terrorists are indistinguishable physically from their less radical neighbors. It is no easy task to embed undercover operatives within these enclaves. Police can and do patrol but don’t necessarily get great cooperation from the communities. Contrast Europe with America. Here, Muslims are dispersed and relatively well assimilated. Where are the Muslim communities to patrol, that bozo Ted Cruz would keep from being radicalized? How are the Muslims here being radicalized? Well, Ted, it’s not by their neighbors, but by the sites they frequent on the internet. Stupid idea, Ted! [New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says Cruz “doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about”] Not to mention, it most likely would result in the very radicalization he thinks such patrols would prevent.

Carpet-bombing? Well in Vietnam, because it was difficult to determine who in fact was VC, the one sure way was to observe if an individual was deceased. If dead, ipso facto he must have been VC. ISIS members live in cities and communities they have taken over by force. They weren’t welcomed in with open arms in most cases. So who dies in carpet-bombing? The innocent victims of ISIS and other civilians. Great idea, bozos Ted and Donald! Or, even more extreme, target the families of ISIS members as Donald previously suggested. They might not be 100% but that’s what’s called a war crime, bozo Trump.

So let’s just torture the suspects. Well, the Senate report concluded that doesn’t really work. Oh yes, suspects will talk. They’ll say anything to get the torture to stop. Unfortunately, what they say isn’t true. Ask John McCain about torture. He spent six years as a POW in Vietnam before becoming a U.S. Senator and presidential candidate. Well they do worse, says Donald. So why should we hold back. Wow! Remember the elementary school mantra, “just because he jumped off the cliff doesn’t mean you should.” Yup, definitely a bozo.

The bottom line? These bozos are not fit to be a President of the U.S. They are too irrational, too stupid and too immoral.

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Cleveland in July–Paper Bag Head Coverings?

I do try to refrain from too much political commentary. Definitely less is found here than in the past. But this year, especially after last night’s 3rd Super Tuesday fairly begs for some.

The GOP convention will be in Cleveland this July, about four months from now. Will Trump be the nominee? There are many Republicans who hope not. Will they be able to stop him? Will there be a contested or open convention? Image of elephant rump with text "GOP Nominee?" Trump

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cleveland Browns NFL team has somewhat loyal, but dispirited fans, due to its poor record spanning many years. So what do the fans do? Some come to games with paper bags over their heads–a form of protest or perhaps to hide their identity. After all, would they want friends, neighbors or coworkers to see them actually sitting in the stands at a Browns game? Perhaps an entrepreneurial sort among them, maybe an alumnus of Trump University, will offer delegates their choice of designer bags to wear at the GOP Convention. I’m not saying anyone will actually do this, but if I were a Republican attending the convention, I very well might.

Cartoon image of man with paper bag with eye holes covering head and face with caption, "2016 GOP Convention?"

 

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Tired of Driving? Let the AI in the Car Take Over

OK, let’s get these blogs back on schedule. It’s supposed to be Wednesdays for this one and Saturdays for John Maberry’s Writing. So we’re a day late for this one. We will have a writing post on Saturday.

Our new (June, 2015) car has dynamic cruise control (slows automatically, sensing proximity to a slower moving vehicle ahead, and returns to the set speed when we change lanes). It has preventive collision sensors as well–it first alerts you and if you fail to take action applies the brakes for you. It has a blind spot monitoring system that flashes a warning in your side mirror and alerts you that there is a vehicle in the lane you are signaling to move into. It also has automatic high beams–turn them on and it not only dims them to regular at the appropriate distance to an oncoming vehicle or one in our lane ahead of us, but returns them to high when we pass them.  Of course there are backup warnings too. There’s more, but I don’t want to bore you or make you think I am boasting. But the point is, these are just the the beginning.

Self-driving car
From the CNN story

A CNN item on driverless cars illustrates what’s coming. Soon? Depends on what you call soon; may be a while yet. But when it comes, note that they are likely to actually be safer than those driven by us sometimes tired, angry, distracted or under the influence drivers. Even the wide awake and alert drivers will soon be no match for the computer controlled vehicles to come. Don’t believe it? Read the snippet below and then check out the full story.

The story highlights:

  • Google’s driverless cars are very good drivers, says Mark Goldfeder

  • They could change what it means to be a “reasonable driver” under the law, he says

  • Goldfeder: Your grandkids won’t drive because computer-driven cars will be too safe to allow humans to take over

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Paying Markets or Writing Contests–Take Your Pick

Erica Verrillo consistently posts very helpful information on her blog, Publishing … and Other Forms of Insanity. Here are some links to three of her posts from the past week. They include:

  • 48 March writing contests NO ENTRY FEE
  • 24 calls for submissions in March
  • and 15 magazines that pay $500 or more for items.

The Writing Contests. Unfortunately several had a March 1 deadline, but you have time to enter most of them. Be aware that there are age or regional restrictions on many of the contests. But they are worth checking out.

 

Calls for Submissions

Erica says this about the list:

Genres include speculative fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, horror, erotic horror, personal essays, tech articles, crime fiction, fairy tales. There are also open calls for any genre of stories and poems.

All of these are paying markets. (A couple accept reprints!)

There are some themed anthologies in the mix, so make sure you read all the requirements before you submit.

 

Magazines Paying $500 or More.

Erica says this, and more, on her post:

While literary journals generally offer modest compensation (if any), there are some magazines that pay generous professional rates.

Many of these specialize in niche markets, which means they have a loyal readership. If you happen to have expertise or a background that would appeal to their audiences, these magazines will be happy to read your pitch. Quite a few accept poetry.

All information is taken from the journals’ websites.

Also see:

225 Paying Markets for Short Stories, Poetry, Nonfiction

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3 Helpful Writing Tips

Where have you been, some may ask. Sick was I. Better now. So to catch up, take a look at some tips by other writer/bloggers with great advice for improving your work in progress and/or your blog.

First up, from Jacqui Murray’s Worddreams . . . blog: The Power of Positive Writing. Jacqui argues that a negative tone will, not surprisingly, have a negative effect on  your story. Here’s two examples on doing rewrites to fix the problem.

Here’s a quick test. Search a chapter of your manuscript (use the Alt+F4 Find shortkey) for ‘not’ and all variations of that (including contractions). Every time possible, switch the negative for a positive. For example, instead of:

‘She couldn’t run anymore’

rewrite as

‘Throat rasping,  she screeched to a slow stumble’.

Instead of

‘She couldn’t see out the window’

rewrite as

‘All she saw was the grimy dirt of a window that had gone years without a wash’.

When you’ve switched as many as you can, re-read your manuscript. Does it sound more powerful? More engaging? Now go through your entire manuscript like that. Sure, you’ll skip some–they’ll need to be negative–but as many as 70% can be switched. That will make the negative parts more striking.

Read the whole post here

 

Next up, let’s look at how Diane Tibert suggests you improve a story by ensuring that whatever the protagonist fears the most happens. How so? In a recent blog post she explains how a conversation with her 13-year-old son illustrated the point.

“The best movies,” he said, “are the ones where everything the characters fear will happen, happens.” He smirked. “We can’t let Ronan get the orb. What happens? Ronan gets the orb.”

(Guardians of the Galaxy: The orb holds the power stone, and Ronan is the bad guy.)

He continued. “We can’t let Ronan get on the ground.”

(If Ronan reaches the planet Xandar and is able to touch the orb to the ground, everything will be destroyed.)

He smiles. “Ronan gets on the ground. See, it’s gotta happen that way.” He got up and left, leaving his wisdom for me to mull over.

I agreed quickly that he was right. Whatever the characters feared most had to happen. Then, as writers, we have to figure out how they either save themselves or the world in which they live. Through this action, the characters grow and become more interesting to readers.

Read the whole post here

 

Finally, we have Jean Cogdell coming to grips with the problem of structure in her Jean’s Writing blog. She confesses to being a “pantser,” but has come to realize there may be a point to some outlining if only to gain control over the story.  Here’s a snippet of what she has to say.

Got a story that just aggravated you almost to insanity? Nothing is working? Take it and try breaking it down into 3 simple acts and then break those acts down further.

Here is the basic outline I’m working with.

Act I – Opening

  1.  Hook – conflict
  2. Protagonist in daily life before transformation
  3. Opportunity to change
  4. Resistance to change
  5. Point of no return
  6. Opportunity accepted

Act II – Entering the new situation

  1. Location
  2. Meeting friends, enemies, romance;
  3. Transformative experiences
  4. Problem brings them together
  5. Problem drives them apart
  6. Crisis Hits

Act III

  1. Terrible Secret Revealed

By breaking down the story little by little, I’m giving it time to grow and hoping to find more freedom and inspiration with smaller chunks.

Read the whole post here.

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Seeing things as they really are, without the illusions or delusions

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