Tag Archives: Books

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?)

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

It’s about time for a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Christmas🎄 Story


Download for FREE – Marvin Battles has lived a rough life but now finds himself at the top of the corporate ladder. It’s Christmas, and he is not merry with the season, a real Scrooge to say the least.
In a chance encounter with a panhandler, Joe Skives, his former boss fired for bribery and other crimes, Marvin’s bad holiday attitude is turned on its head.
The story ends in a real David and Goliath story as Marvin takes on the corporate monster in a real Christmas ending. Download for FREE

Angst

ANGST /äNG(k)st/ noun

a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general.angst-clock-tower

Anger all Twisted
Neurotic for Naught
Griping about the
Slippage of Time

 

 

 

The Urban Dictionary  defines ANGST in a much more comprehensive way:
Angst, often confused with anxiety, is a transcendent emotion in that it combines the unbearable anguish of life with the hopes of overcoming this seemingly impossible situation. Without the important element of hope, then the emotion is anxiety, not angst. Angst denotes the constant struggle one has with the burdens of life that weigh on the dispossessed and not knowing when the salvation will appear.

In an attempt to purify or catharize the pain of life, I write stories. Flatline started its life in that manner. My goal was to pen a short story to exorcise the feelings of going from the life of an outlaw, then missionary, then international evangelist to doing laundry, dishes, and diapers, but the characters and story refused to stay in the box. What was initially intended for my own amusement turned into 100,000 words.

I must have a lot of Angst.

catharsisCatharsis noun
1. (in Aristotelian literary criticism) the purging or purification of the emotions through the evocation of pity and fear, as in tragedy
2. psychoanalysis the bringing of repressed ideas or experiences into consciousness, thus relieving tensions.
3. purgation, esp of the bowels

If you are a writer you know what I mean. If you are not a writer, you might be a painter, carpenter or computer programmer and get the same release through exercising your creative gift.

It’s the way life works.

Peace,

M

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

Beat the Odds

Hunger Games Meme Odds not in favorThe odds are not in our favor, but I believe we can still beat them.

Never let bad odds ruin your hour, day, week, year, or your lifetime. Despite truly terrible odds, you can reject their tyranny.

Odds and dreams quote purpose

In gambling, the odds are always tilted in favor of the house.

ODDS
ädz/
noun
  1. the ratio between the amounts staked by the parties to a bet, based on the expected probability either way.
    “the bookies are offering odds of 8-1.”
    • The chances or likelihood of something happening or being the case.
      Plural noun: the odds
      the odds are that he is no longer alive.”

      Synonyms: the likelihood is, the probability is, chances are, there’s a good chance

      odds are that he is no longer alive”Dice percent symbol

 

Beating the odds is the message of my next book. Taking Jericho breaks the mold of supernatural fiction and crime stories that I had cast for myself. Jericho is not fiction, yet supernatural events and crime play a colossal part in the story. As a writer more comfortable within fiction and addicted to words, I succumbed to temptation and embellished a little here and there.

Taking Jericho is about overcoming the incredibly poor odds wagered against our lives in an unseen cosmic duel. We war daily against unseen forces on a spiritual battlefront present mostly in the field of our minds and hearts and crossing over with awful regularity into the real world.

Accosted by these overwhelming odds for failure, our desires and dreams seem to stand slim chance of success. Many cower and cringe rather than risk losing. The hope of sheer survival and the desire to make a difference, a dent or even a small scratch in this cold, sometimes cruel and always amazing world melt away in the face of daunting probabilities.

Like the gladiators of old we are slaves to this wager, we have no real choice, fight and possibly win or refuse and die a miserable death. To simply survive the bout is a losing bet, only the victors come out on top. Survivors lose fighters win.

Fighter

Note: the purpose of Taking Jericho is not to make you, or I, feel better about ourselves. Nor, will it give us permission and the justification we need to sit around and bemoan our sad fate while doing nothing.

Wal-Mart and your local Christian paraphernalia store stock hundreds of books that will tell you how great you are, which is true. But odds (there’s that word again – the fortieth time) are, that reading those books will only succeed in scratching your tummy while you roll over, kick your leg at the sky and do nothing.

Humans are built for the struggle; we were created for the fight; it is part of what makes us into who God had in mind when he created us. Perhaps, that is why we find life so difficult.

Can you picture the Master of the Universe reflecting on how much he adores you and me as we stare unblinkingly at the endless proliferation of television shows about how terrible life is?

Pause for a moment. (I’ll wait while you think about it.)

 

 

 

 

I didn’t think so.

Taking Jericho is a story of God. God’s story in me, once the worst neighbor on anybody’s block, a one-time atheist motorcycle outlaw, and the little inner-city church my wife and I founded in the city of Sacramento.

If the G-O-D word just made you spit your coffee, chamomile tea, or beer onto your Nook or Kindle, STOP take a breath and give it a chance. The story—not the spill. I promise not to work overtime trying to convince you of God’s existence and benevolent character, only He can do that. If you don’t care two wits about the God stuff, you still might find something worth your time.

 

At the very least, I know you will enjoy the story.

If I had not lived it, I would hardly believe it was true.

The odds I mentioned a dozen times so far, remember those? Well, they get torpedoed and blown to bits in this story. I said all that to say. It can happen for you. God has a plan and He’s sticking to it.

God knows the numbers before he throws the dice. (That’s a metaphor, don’t get mad).Dice in Gods hand

There is a method to God’s madness, and I do believe he is mad (crazy) for trusting us with as much as he does.

Now if you’re still with me the only other things that might dissuade you could be the words LITTLE and INNER-CITY. Most people, especially in North America, want as little to do with LITTLE as they do with the INNER-CITY.

In the area around the church I founded, lots of yellow police tape gets unwound; within two blocks there have been numerous daylight killings and shootouts.Inner City Police tape

 

 

 

 

People of North America are not interested in things small. Super size me

They want their meals super-sized and their entertainment HUGE.

Panasonic 152 inch Plasma TV

Panasonic 152 inch Plasma TV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sacramento, my city, despite all its history in the building of the United States and its place on the world stage as the capital of California and being a key player on the world scene, remains a cow-town in most people’s eyes.

DowntownSacPano

If you’ve made it this far, I thank you.

The story of Taking Jericho goes from my daring leap from the insanity of a maniacal and dysfunctional life to the craziness of pastoring an inner-city church. The tales of people and how we met them, at the same intersection God happened to be driving through at the time, are endless and often hysterical; sadly and more often there are the tragedies and failures of life without which nothing rings true.

That mountain of bad odds, bad blood, and bad luck that we slog our way through daily is the same mountain we climb to the win we so desperately crave.k2-big mountain dice

If you are waiting for your life to turn problem free, you are on the wrong planet, reading the wrong book and desperately need to wake up from your dream.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you remember to buy Taking Jericho when it comes out hopefully by the end of the year. Subscribe to updates and you’ll be informed just as soon as it does.

Peace,

Mike Matheson

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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