Saturday, May 31, 2014

Teaching Gatsby by Conrad Tuerk

As a veteran high school English teacher, I consider my poem Teaching Gatsby one of many “field notes” I have gathered over the years.

    Teaching Gatsby

My dog team I call them.
They come in after lunch
strung out on sugar or
stoned to the bejesus.

Either way they nip at
my heels oblivious
to the primacy I
asserted yesterday
and the day before
and last week
when a full moon riled them
up and put me on edge.  

A coin has no memory,
my friend from the math
department likes to quip,
each toss carries fresh odds,
fifty-fifty, heads or tails. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Something's Funny Here

I bought a friend’s funny book at a local thrift store the other day and felt both guilty and elated at the same time. It was, after all, “Half-Price on Books and Clothes Day” (my favorite holiday), so the lovely hard cover copy cost me only .79. If I am anything, it’s cheap.

Most of the twenty floor-to-ceiling aisles of books in the store were crowded with other thrifty book lovers (if I were looking to start a relationship, this would certainly be the place I’d come first; well, here or the dog park). The only empty section was “humor.”

Humor is my genre and to paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, “It don’t get no respect.” Not even at 50% off. Go into any bookstore – there are still some around, right? – and count the number of shelves stocked with mystery or self-help or children’s books about why daddy is sleeping on the couch tonight. Now count the number of shelves stocked with authors who simply try to make you laugh. I usually come up with a ratio of about 40:1. I have to use a slide rule to do the calculation because my cell phone is “not smart.”

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Paris Apartment: Interview with Author Michelle Gable - by Jan Moran

Today we’re welcoming Michelle Gable, author of A Paris Apartment. When I read this delightful book, I was utterly mesmerized, because it is based on a true story that came to light in 2010 about a 9th-arrondissement apartment had been sealed for seven decades.
Abandoned in 1942 on the eve of the Nazi occupation and frozen in time, Marthe de Florian’s apartment overflowed with treasures from the Belle Époque era. The dusty stash included high-end furniture, a classic Mickey Mouse stuffed animal, and an unknown painting of the mistress painted by the most renowned portraitist of the 19th century — Giovanni Boldini. The canvas ultimately sold for a record-high for the artist.
The story so captured Michelle Gable that she spent several years researching and writing a fictionalized account of Marthe de Florian, a demimondaine, which was a unique class of fashionable woman supported by one or more wealthy male patrons.
In A Paris Apartment, Michelle Gable deftly weaves two stories, one of a contemporary Sotheby’s furniture specialist, and the other of a Belle Époque beauty and demimondaine. Stylish and sophisticated, it’s a story of complex relationships, romance, and history.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I noticed her mother first. Stylish and attractive, she was better dressed than most of the churning mob in the Phoenix airport terminal, waiting for their Memorial Day weekend flights. She sat six seats away crammed in with other passengers listening for their boarding calls. An unintelligible announcement barked over the loudspeaker and she stood, leaned down to a woman in her early twenties, who I figured was her daughter, and handed her a carry-on bag. The girl accepted the bag without taking her eyes from the book she held. She continued to read as the older woman made her way through the aromas of food concessions to the restroom area.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

To Read or Not to Read

For quite some time, I asked myself one question: To read or not to read (reviews), that is the question.

When my first book was published, I read every single review: the good, the bad, and everything in between. The first mistake I made was to read them while being in the middle of working on my second book in the series. The second mistake I made was to absorb every word and view them as absolute truth, whether they were a constructive or...not so constructive.

I didn't even notice that whenever I read a review, I carried the negative words with me when I sat down to write. When it came to the 4 and 5 star reviews, I took the positive comments to heart, but found myself in panic-mode afterwards. My greatest fear was to create something that didn't live up to the expectations of my new fans. The last thing I wanted was to disappoint them.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Out Of The Darkness

Out Of The Darkness

A short story


Sue Coletta

Part One

       Weeks had past since the accident, and still I sat alone in the dark.  My world had fallen apart, shattered like glass, and all because a drunk driver crossed the double yellow lines.  

I swayed in my pine rocker, the woven seat worn thin from overuse, and planned my death;  wondered how I’d carry out a successful suicide and free myself from living a nightmare.

Pills, I thought.  I had enough medications to kill a small elephant.  If I swallowed a handful it should do the trick.  But what if I lived?  What if I drifted into a coma?  Or worse, entered a vegetative state?  No.  I needed a guarantee.  A solution that would ensure my departure from this world, my ascent into heaven.
I fantasized about lounging in a warm, frothy bubble bath.  Flickering candles spreading a soft trickling glow over the water.  I drew a long, thin blade from between the pleats of a folded towel and pressed it against the soft underbelly of my wrist.  
The cold steel sent a shiver up my spine.  
I hesitated, then braced myself for the pain.  
The knife punctured my skin.  

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beyond this there be Dragons

Train tracks cut a straight path through the marsh. Amid the marsh on Marble Street, the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center.

Just above, Pleasant Street climbs to St. Bridget’s high on the hill.

Beyond the towering church treetop sentinels stand against the spring sky.

 Beyond this there be Dragons.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Why Science Fiction and Fantasy Matters

Author Garrett Calcaterra performing
air testing during BP Oil Spill
Gulf of Mexico 2010
Earlier this week, my controversial article “Can Sci-Fi Save the World from Climate Change?” was published in Black Gate magazine. My goal in writing the article was to rally the science fiction and fantasy (SFF) community into tackling the issue of climate change. As you might expect, the reception has been mixed. Some people have lauded the article, others have criticized me for telling other authors what “they should write,” while the vast majority of people have simply ignored the article all together, which is to be expected, because that’s more or less what most of us do when confronted by the nebulous, foreboding issue of global warming.

Despite all the cataclysmic evidence that climate change is already happening and that our outlook for continued human prosperity is bleak, I am still optimistic. Why? Well, because these sort of issues are exactly what the SFF field is great at tackling. In fact, the SFF community has a storied history when it comes to inspiring progress.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Ocho, a serialized novella by James Satterfield

Authors note: Ocho is loosely based on Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. I put my old man in the Montana Rockies, circa 1985. Some of my favorite stories have always been the classic novellas of Steinbeck, London, Stevenson, and other writers of the 19th and 20th centuries. I was drawn to this tale by the themes of man against nature, grace in the face of defeat, and society's lack of respect for the elderly. For this blog, I will be presenting this tale as a serialized novella. I hope you enjoy. 

Jim Satterfield


Twenty miles west of Augusta, the Rocky Mountain Front rises from the prairie like a great battlement guarding the high country. A band of Douglas fir runs along the base of wind-swept ramparts striped green by ribbons of limber pine. Limestone cliffs stretch to the sky, marking the last ascent of the stony wall. Behind this fortress, a succession of ridges and valleys leads to the Continental Divide. In this distant land, wild creatures have lived their immemorial lives since the last ice age. Notches in the Front’s rocky reefs provide access to the grasslands below. Ancient trails worn smooth by countless hooves trace passes where generations have migrated to escape winter’s icy grip and return to graze on spring’s new growth.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Why Books Are More Important Than Ever.

Editors note: Thanks for joining us on Prose&Cons, and please tune in daily for the diversity of perspectives that only the #ProseCons can afford. We are purveyors of the written word: authors, representing nearly every genre of fiction including mystery, suspense, thriller, romance, new and young adult, historical, steampunk, speculative, noir, and literary, as well as many categories of non-fiction; editors; bloggers; publishers; book reviewers; poets; and artists. And we are readers; Prose&Cons is a blog for readers by readers. So, sit back and enjoy, and don't forget to sign up for the blog--and share it on your favorite #SocialMedia. We appreciate your support. Thanks, Peter

Why Books Are More Important Than Ever 

We live in a day and age where the evolution of language and words is driven more by #SocialMedia than books and novels. As both a #Tweeter and a lover of literature old and new, I have mixed feelings about this trend. There is something about the speed of #SocialMedia which alarms me. Consider this: Edgar Poe, who created the thriller, died broke and without any acclaim, and yet his works are now considered to be masterpieces. Contrast this to the blitzkrieg world of #SocialMedia where someone who uploads a cat video can become an icon in a single day--or less.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Prose Cons, aka The Gang of Twenty-One.

Welcome to Prose&Cons, Edition#1, written by the Prose Cons, aka The Gang of Twenty-One. Prose&Cons will officially launch May 22, but for those of you chomping at the bit (my mother and several of her Canasta group) I thought I would write an introductory blog explaining who we are and what we hope to accomplish. And when I say We, I mean we: Prose&Cons is a team blog, written by the The Gang of Twenty-One. 

Why should you follow the Prose Cons? Well, not following may result in a year's imprisonment in a Mongolian gulag. Aside from that, it's the writing, plain and simple. On a daily basis you will see the well-written word in many forms: essays, short stories, memoirs, book reviews, humorous anecdotes, and serialized fiction. Even the occasional poem. If it can be written, it will be featured on Prose&Cons.