Category Archives: Stephen King

Who’s Your Hero?

Who’s your hero? I mean which author rocks your world and makes or has made a difference in your life.

From Shakespeare to King, Cormac McCarthy to J. K. Rowling who does IT for you?
Mine is Stephen King the Master Story Teller he does IT for me pun intended. He is prolific at a book-and-a-half per year over thirty-plus years and still finds time to read seventy books per year. The man knows how to tell a story that captures his readers and makes them late for work, dinner, and their dentist appointment. His best book for me was his memoir On Writing. But his fiction is what he’s known for, so I have to say The Stand was his best for me. Running a close second is The Dark Half and Alexis Machine as the ultimate anti-hero.

I think Cormac McCarthy is my hero for using minimal punctuation and getting a Pulitzer (I’m dashed off a cliff onto sharp rocks for missing a comma) and telling such a dark tale that not a pinprick of light is allowed in. It’s not gratuitous either the horror of it all. The characters situations go from bad to worse and then worse than that. If something good does happen like a guy falls in love, then he finds her on his stoop with a slit throat (as in All The Pretty Horses). And if the Brothers Grimm weren’t grim enough, Blood Meridian takes horrific antagonists to a level outside your… your… imagination.

I love my heroes dark or not. I have a thousand more for everything from music to faith to food and parenting. I love my heroes (I did say that didn’t I?)

From a Buick 8 – Stephen King

I just finished reading this book by my literary hero Stephen King. 

As with all of his stories, long, short, or epic, King weaves a tale that is hard to put down. 

A black cloaked figure walks away from an Old Buick in a Pennsylvania gas station and never returns. The stranger bears a strange resemblance (at least in my mind) to Roland Deschain of Gilead the fictional character and the protagonist of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Or, it could be his nemesis Walter o’Dim in the same series who is also R. F. or Randall Flagg the Dark Man. 

The car “was a ’54 [Buick], according to Tony Schoondist, Curtis Wilcox, and Ennis Rafferty. Sort of a ’54. When you got right down to it, it wasn’t a 1954 at all. Or a Buick. Or even a car. It was something else.” It plays the central and antagonistic role in the story. Most of the tale is told looking backwards as the State Troopers of Troop D tell the teenage son of a deceased trooper about the car they keep in Shed B. 

The car seems to be an E.T. of some kind or a portal into another word which brings things from there and sucks people from here. Another oddity is: 

“The Buick had been sitting miles away in Shed B, fat and luxy and blameless on whitewall tires that wouldn’t take dirt or even the slightest pebble in the treads but repudiated them each and every one, right down to (as far as we could tell) the finest grain of sand.”

The only drawback to the story I could find was that it could be repetitive and long winded, but I attribute that to the conversational way in the story is brought forth. It’s a fine story. No complaints from me. 

Anyway tomorrow is my birthday, July 2, and I’ll be 61 but I feel 25 in my mind. 

Sandy Dearborn, the commander of Troop D, is the main narrator of the story. I’ll leave you with his words on our perception of our own age:

I think it’s a mistake, a clerical error which will eventually be rectified when brought to the attention of the proper authorities.

It is impossible, I think, that a man who still feels so profoundly twenty-five can look so happast fifty. 

The mistake was believing that the twenty-five-year-old guy who seemed to live in my brain was real.

Who’s Your Literary Hero? and Who is Their Hero?

I surely don’t mean your favorite writer even if they could be one in the same. What I intend is who sparks your creative ovens?

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

My Literary Hero is Stephen King, not as much for his subject matter as for his incredible gift and skill. The man can flat tell a story. No matter the topic or setting, he can hold your attention in the palm of his hand. On top of that, he’s as prolific as a rabbit on a typewriter producing more than 50 novels in the past 50 years, all the while reading up to 75 novels per year according to his book on the craft of writing named On Writing. That’s some amazing statistics.

Before I read his book on writing, I was already a rabid fan reading his work long before I was a published writer myself devouring Mr. King’s novels for their resident darkness resonating within my own dark soul. Even now that I’ve read nearly his entire bibliography, and my soul is fifty shades lighter, I still cannot put down his books or stories.

Now, when I admire a famous author, actor, or artist, I like to dig into their past and find out whose past the idolized or were inspired by.

Stephen King’s literary hero is the great Richard Matheson. Imagine that, we share the same last name.

Richard Burton Matheson is best known as the author of I Am Legend, a 1954 science fiction horror vampire novel that has been adapted for the screen four times, and you thought only Will Smith did the movie. The Will Smith version bears little resemblance to the novel. Matheson also wrote 16 episodes of The Twilight Zone for Rod Serling, including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel“. Also, Duel a movie directed by a young Stephen Spielberg.

I must admit that Matheson’s works were not unknown to me, but him as the author of same was nearly an unknown in my psyche. Matheson has penned many great works of American fiction, mostly Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror.

There you have it. Now show me yours.

Peace

The Power of Ion

the-power-of-ionDuring my morning prayers, as I went through the list of things, I was struck with a thought: While reading my prayer list and asking God to do or help myself and others with things placed on my heart, the suffix -ion leaped into my lap (as a writer of fiction that’s the way I see it). Fiction, there’s another -ion word.

-Ion is a suffix appearing in words of Latin origin, denoting action or condition. It is used in Latin and in English to form nouns from stems of Latin adjectives (communion; union), verbs (legion; opinion), and especially past participles (allusion; creation; fusion; notion; torsion).
A few thoughts thumped and bumped in my head:
-Ion changes things like an adjective to a noun. It takes a modifier and makes something out of it.

-Ion is an action word; it gets things done.

-Ion ends one of my favorite words, FICT-ion. One of my passions is writing, reading, and dreaming up fict-ion-al tales.

AND

ION is a noun used in Physics and Chemistry:

Defined as an electrically charged atom or group of atoms formed by the loss or gain of one or more electrons, as a cation (positive ion) which is created by electron loss and is attracted to the cathode in electrolysis, or as an anion (negative ion) which is created by an electron gain and is attracted to the anode. (A lot of God words in there)

The same process is used in batteries to store and release power.

Batteries have three parts, an anode (-), a cathode (+), and the electrolyte. The cathode and anode (the positive and negative sides at either end of a traditional battery) are hooked up to an electrical circuit. The chemical reaction in the battery causes a buildup of electrons at the anode.

Those definitions tell me that I-O-N has power

So when you’re praying for, vision, direction, provision, passion, or protection, you are activating powerful forces.

Fiction does a similar thing releasing the power of imagination and, if it’s good fiction, it speaks truth to the parts of our soul that only God can reach.

Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” – Stephen King

“Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.” ― G.K. Chesterton

“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” – Albert Camus

 

5 Inspirational Books on Writing

I’m big on inspiration. I believe most writers are unless, of course, you write plumbing manuals, and then you still need a smidgen of inspiration to keep your readers awake through a paragraph. I once belonged to a writers group whose conscience was that authors shouldn’t read other people’s work lest it influences their own writing… The active word here is that I ONCE belonged to that group. After all, could you imagine a Professional Basketball player who never watched any basketball games other than his own?

The group leader was a published author, and fairly good. I read his book–that’ll teach him…

Like I said, I was once a part of that group, and since then I have participated in a group moderated by a nurse in the cancer center I went too. It was based on the idea that writing could be a healing art. Tremendous. I met some great influences, was inspired, and learned a great deal along the way. My most notable connection was a man who had a degree in Spanish Literature which he told me he was still trying to find a use for—the degree not the literature. He turned me on to one of the better authors I’ve ever read, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a famous author and Pulitzer Prize Winner.

Some like data. Some like facts. I’m an inspiration junkie.

forest-green-bike

There’s a great story here… Romance or Tragedy?

JUNK-IE
A person with an insatiable craving for something.

Like the gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only one was of the mystic variety. Whenever he mentioned himself, he used the disciple that Jesus loved to describe himself and his relationship with Christ. Not that he was loved more, but that was his frame of reference. He loved inspiration, and in my arrogance, I think everyone else should too.

So, without any more of my drivel, here are the most inspirational books on writing I have read up to date.

I’ve listed them in order of their impact and influence on me personally. I hope it’s helpful.

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

As writers, paintersmusicians we desperately need what MS. L’Engle has to say.

Madeleine L’Engle was an American writer best known for young-adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning, A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels.

I have read her YA novels; they are tremendously great reads for anyone, but it was this book I read first. Shared with me by an artist friend, it was chock full of mind-altering, paradigmbending inspiration. The magnitude of what she was saying had to be taken in small bites, and chewed slowly to let it digest properly; it took me six months to finish reading this small paperback.

Walking on Water altered my thinking on the entire creative process. 

We as artists, authors, or… can create anything–there are no limits–we can walk on water.

From AMAZON: Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.

The next two are a toss up for second place- so I’ll give deference to my hero, the best storyteller on the planet… Stephen King



On Writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King

on-writing-stephen-kingPart autobiography and part inspiration, ‘On Writing’ has many reflections on his own personal tragedy. It quietly bursts with tips on the mechanics of writing and lots of good simple advice. He wrote this book while recovering from nearly being killed when a motorhome ran him down as he was out for a walk.

From WIKIPEDIA: The first section of On Writing is an autobiography, mainly about King’s early exposure to writing and his first attempts at it. King talks about his early attempts to get published, and his first novel Carrie. King also talks about his fame as a writer, and what it took to get there. This section includes his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother and his history of drug and alcohol abuse.

The second section is also autobiographical, in which King discusses the 1999 accident in which he was struck by a vehicle while walking down an isolated country road. He describes the injuries he suffered, his painful recovery and his struggle to start writing again.

WHAT I TOOK FROM ‘On Writing’:

Stephen King’s definition of when you can actually call yourself a [talented] writer. I Win. Goodreads Records it as:

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check and if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce. If you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” I remember it saying, “then you can call yourself a writer.”

Somehow King manages to read 60-75 books a year and still produce more than one epic book every year. AMAZING!!! But, if I lived in a big house on a lake and wrote for my sustenance, perhaps I could too. Still Inspiring.

Nuts and bolts: After you have finished what you think is the final draft of your book or story, get out the scalpel and shorten your book by 10%. There is at least that much worthless stuff. Personally, I have a hard time NOT making it longer, but ever since I read King’s book, his voice rings in my ear as I take a hatchet to my precious prose.

The line that rings in my ear comes to me quoted by Stephen King‘s literary hero, Richard Matheson: “Kill your darlings.” Literary hopefuls are told to learn that maxim.

More simply stated, take a merciless hatchet to your most darling and self-indulgent verses for the greater benefit of your work.

There’s a lot more to On Writing, but it’s much less tangible and shows up when needed.


Tied for Third Place:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott  is certainly hard to pigeonhole into a class or category. If you’ve never treated yourself to her raw style, do yourself the favor and find any one of her many books. I think what does it for me mostly is her transparentness. She is very candid about her own failures and struggles with life. I’m a whole-hearted subscriber to the idea that a rough life makes great writing.

“If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.” -Anne Lamott

Excerpt from Google Books

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by Bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

“A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind — a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing “now,” while we still can.” — “Seattle Times.”

The following description from Wikia  is what endears me to Anne Lamott, the author and narrator of the Bird by Bird.

A former drug addict and alcoholic, Lamott has become an author, teacher, mother, and devout Christian. She is heavily influenced by her author father’s bohemian lifestyle. She believes that writing can help create community and lead to personal satisfaction. She also believes that writers are an integral part of society and must have a moral perspective.

AMEN!!


Remember, the main point of this piece is to share the books on writing that inspired me… There are many fine books on grammar and style, but inspiration is an elusive beast and frame of mind is everything to a writer.


Zen in the Art of Writing:

Releasing the Creative Genius Within You by Ray Bradbury

Before I knew I was a writer, Bradbury’s stories were working insidiously to turn me into one, and before I was a teenager, his Illustrated Man carved its deep mark in my soul. I still make it a point to reread some of his books every year. His short stories are my favorite, and I suppose that has some connection for me to my writing as I love penning a short story or a long short in my case.

As it says in the title, there is a Zen to writing, and as all these authors I’ve listed have said in their own way, If you write to be rich and famous quit now.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” ― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

Most memorable in this book was how he fed dimes to coin-operated typewriters in the basement of the LA public library writing and submitted stories not only out of ZEN but because he had to eat. It drove him to improve and hone his craft. That form of Zen was inspirational in that his only formal education was high school.


The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction by Stephen Koch

I read this book a long time ago, and it helped me immensely to grow as a writer. But, the standout thing in my mind’s eye is the green cover and this quote:

“The cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story, but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.” 
John Le Carré

At the time I didn’t even know who JohnLe Carré was, but it caused me to search and opened another treasury of incredible reading.

I was a raving fan of Kurt Vonnegut since my teen years and I’m sure it was his blurb that caused me to pick this from the countless books on writing:

“Make [your] characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”Kurt Vonnegut

So there you have it. That’s my list. Be inspired. Keep writing.

M. Matheson

M. Matheson

August 8, 2016

hand from ground680x350

If you are reading this, you already know it’s true. M. Matheson has gone from the land of UNDEAD Blogger page (no offense, it served me mediocre-like for years). Thank you, Google, but WordPress is better. I feel like a real… something. Let me pause to celebrate.

WhooHoo!!

WhooHoo!!

While you are here, pour a beverage of your choice, download a free story, read my last post, and Preorder Flatline. If you like anything you see send me a note. If something bugs you and sticks in your craw, do likewise.

WordPress made this chore a snap, my hat (if I wore one) is off in solemn salute.

Thank you, to all my loyal readers and fans. May your life be filled with peace and good things.

M. Matheson

Inspirational Books

I’m big on inspiration. I believe all writers are, although I ONCE belonged to a writers group whose conscience was that authors shouldn’t read other peoples work because it might influence their writing [for shame]. What a terrible thing to have happen.
Actually, the group leader was a published author, and fairly good. I read his book–that’ll teach him.
Like I said, I was once a part of that group, and since then I have been part of a group moderated by a nurse in the cancer center I went too. It was based on the idea that writing could be a healing art. Tremendous. I met some great influences, inspirations and learned a great deal along the way.
Some like data. Some like facts. I’m an inspiration junkie. Like the gospel writers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only one was of the mystic variety. Whenever he mentioned himself, he used the disciple that Jesus loved. Not that he was loved more, that was merely his frame of reference. He loved inspiration, and in my arrogance I think everyone else should too.

So, without any more of my drivel, here are the most inspirational books on writing I have read.

I’ve listed them in order of influence. I hope it’s helpful.

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle

As writers, painters, musicians or… 

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Madeleine L’Engle was an American writer best known for young-adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels.

I have read her YA novels and they are tremendous, but it was this book I read first. It was shared with me by an artist friend/relative, and was so chock full of mind-altering inspiration it took six months to read, even as a small paperback. It altered my thinking on the entire creative process. 

We can create anything–there are no limits–we can walk on water.

From AMAZON: Through L’Engle’s beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one’s own art.

The next two are a toss up for second place- so I’ll give deference to my hero, the best storyteller on the planet… Stephen King

~~~~O~~~~


On Writing: a memoir of the craft by Stephen King
Part autobiography and part inspiration, ‘On Writing’ has many reflections on his own personal tragedy. It bursts with tips on mechanics and lots of good simple advice. He wrote this book while recovering from nearly being killed from a motorhome running him down as he was out for a walk.

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From WIKIPEDIA: The first section of On Writing is an autobiography, mainly about King’s early exposure to writing and his first attempts at it. King talks about his early attempts to get published, and his first novel Carrie. King also talks about his fame as a writer, and what it took to get there. This section includes his relationship with his wife, the death of his mother and his history of drug and alcohol abuse.
The second section is also autobiographical, in which King discusses the 1999 accident in which he was struck by a vehicle while walking down an isolated country road. He describes the injuries he suffered, his painful recovery and his struggle to start writing again.

WHAT I TOOK FROM IT:
Stephen King’s definition of when you are actually a [talented] writer.
Goodreads records it as, “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” I remember it saying, “then you can call yourself a writer.” Who am I though to bicker with Goodreads.

Somehow he manages to read 60-75 books a year and still produce what he produces. AMAZING!!!

Inspiring
Nuts and bolts: After you think your book or story is done shorten your book by 10% find the worthless stuff and take it out. I have a hard time NOT making it longer, but I hear his voice in my ear as I rewrite.
There’s a lot more, but it’s more ethereal and shows up when needed.
~~~~o~~~~
Third or Second Place tie is:
Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
Anne is surely hard to pin down or pigeon-hole into a class or category. If you’ve never treated yourself to her raw style, do yourself the favor and find any one of her many books. I think what does it for me mostly is her transparentness. She is very candid about her own failures and struggle with life. I’m a whole-hearted subscriber to the idea that a rough life makes great writing.

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“If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.” -Anne Lamott

Excerpt from Google Books
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

“A gift to all of us mortals who write or ever wanted to write… sidesplittingly funny, patiently wise and alternately cranky and kind — a reveille to get off our duffs and start writing “now,” while we still can.” — “Seattle Times.”

Description from Wikia Anne Lamott – The author and narrator of the book. A former drug addict
and alcoholic, Lamott has become an author, teacher, mother, and devout Christian. She is heavily influenced by her author father’s bohemian lifestyle. She believes that writing can help create community and lead to personal satisfaction. She also believes that writers are an integral part of society and must have a moral perspective.

AMEN!!

~~~~o~~~~

Remember I said books on writing that inspired me… There are many fine books on grammar and style. I have an existing post for that. Inspiration is an elusive beast at times and frame of mind is everything to a writer.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Releasing the Creative Genius Within You

by Ray Bradbury

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Before I knew I was a writer, Bradbury was working to turn me into one. From before I was a teenager, his Illustrated Man carved its mark in my soul. I still make it a point to reread some of his books every year. His short stories are my favorite, and I suppose has some connection for me to my writing.

As it says in the title, there is a Zen to writing, and as all these authors I’ve listed have said in their own way, If you write to be rich and famous quit now.

“I have never listened to anyone who criticized my taste in space travel, sideshows or gorillas. When this occurs, I pack up my dinosaurs and leave the room.” 

― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing


Most memorable in this book was how he fed dimes to typewriters in the basement of the LA public library writing and submitted stories not only out of ZEN, but because he had to eat. It drove him to improve and hone his craft. Inspirational in that his only formal education was high school.


~~~~O~~~~

The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop: A Guide to the Craft of Fiction
by Stephen Koch


“The cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story, but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.” 
—John Le Carré

At the time I didn’t even know who John Le Carré was, but it caused me to search and opened another treasury of incredible reading.

I was a raving fan of Vonnegut’s since my teen years and I’m sure it was his blurb that caused me to pick this from all the books on writing:

“Make [your] characters want something right away—even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.” 
—Kurt Vonnegut


So there you have it. That’s my list. Be inspired.
M

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