Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I am a man riveted,
1930s style, as nailed to an iron cross
By Rosie herself.
Who would have thought
A cliché could carry so much fat
As, “love’s labor lost,”
Or “Better to have loved and lost”
Etc.  Pile on the Platitudes.

When the heart leads,
Children will follow,
Dying young, as all fools do,
To think that love prevails.
For many have died in that illusion.
Yet those surviving, wizen gray,
Do not appeal to me,
Neither does their naysaying,
Excite a lingering hope.

Rather, the blush of romance,
The supple supplement
Of dreams
Of things that transmute
From drear to divine:
These things give me life,
Raise me from the grave
Of daily routines, to believe
Love matters, justice prevails, honor lives,
Somewhere, far away from here.  

An Open Letter to My Online Writing Workshop Leader

Wow DeAnna.  34 weeks, one week at a time.  One of the "subtext" lessons of this journey has been the power of consistency.  We hiked this mountain alone except for the first few weeks.  I want to say "thank you" for keeping your commitment to reach the summit.  

The Pitch:  I did the exercise.  Maass's book adds value mostly because of the exercises.  No ivory tower theory for him:  "Just do the work," he seems to say.  I appreciate that he goes right to the point:  a pitch is a business communication.  Keep it brief, simple, and incorporate a hook.  He gives an example of how a 173 word pitch produced a six figure advance.
Here's the unedited product of the timed 5 minute exercise:

This is a "near speculative fiction" piece about  a U.S. corporate executive living in L.A., who is on a journey to claim her destiny as a reformer of the Catholic Church.   She will become the first woman pope ["Momma Magdalena I:].  She must confront corrupt Church officials and the Mafia.  Her election as "Momma," occurs as the Church is about to implode under its own weight of corruption.  To save it, a desperate College of Cardinals elects its arch-enemy and primary reformist:  Celeste Ryan.
 [about 96 words]

As Maass suggests, I'll revisit this "pitch" in a few days, and see if i can cut it to 50 words.  

Many thanks again DeAnna.  I too wish you "Happy Writing," but sign off, as I always do, with "Keep Writing!"  

Frank Pray.  

Thursday, August 21, 2014


I’ve read that readers love interesting characters who defy the usual patterns because its a safe way to experience some rather strange behaviors without any of the risks. The emotional charge is there, but the consequences are controlled. Close the book, turn out the lights, and sleep in the security of your routines. But, another chapter of the unpredictable awaits. This is what we offer: safe excitement, free drama, easy thrills. That’s OK. The alternative is even more dismal.
The twist and reversal are so powerful. It’s one of those thrills we all love (except when they happen to us). My friend Solange builds her stories around these reversals. She lives for them, and I suppose so do her readers. Not a bad technique: develop a pattern of upsetting the patterns.
Umm, could you reverse the expectation that a suspected twist was sure to come? [Could you put a twist on the twist, like doing a "double twist" in Olympic Skating?] Now that would be challenge. I just saw “Now You See Me” on HBO. It is the story of one “bait and switch” after another, built layer upon layer by the mind-games of a group of magicians. The group is ultimately outmatched by the Master Magician who has spent many years setting them all up for the biggest reversal of all: he, who has played the role of the dimwitted cop chasing the criminal magicians is himself the ultimate criminal, and has played everyone. I found it a very satisfying experience, and I suspect it was the “ah hah” of each turn in the plot that made it work for me.
Now, to do that. Let’s see, where are my skates?

Monday, August 11, 2014


What if it was not our images seen in broken glass,
But our very ourselves who were broken?
Suppose our dalliance with the pieces of our lives
Was not a just a game of images,
But the substance of things ripped from our souls,
As a heart might be ripped from a lover’s chest,
Or a repentant thought snatched from redemption?
Suppose we took account of how in need we are
Of God’s mercy, so that even a devoted skeptic
Would kneel and cry out in desperation,
To find that God did not split hairs,
About who knocked, or how they came to be at the door.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Hatchet Job on the Consumer by Hachette

As an author registered with Kindle Direct, I received the following mass email from "Kindle Direct" concerning its fight over e-book pricing with mega publishing corporation Hachette:  

I'm persuaded by the case made, but reasonable minds may differ.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Facebook Postings: Neurology.

I post a tribute to the left hemisphere, where scientists dwell, in well-equipped labs;
I drop a line of poetry to the right hemisphere, where insanity dwells in mangled syntax.
I present an offering of the first born and unblemished 
At the altar at the corpus callosum.
Is God there, in the desert of my nomadic thoughts,
A cooling cloud by day and flame by night?  
Does he redeem the ancient, the present, and the ever so advanced future?
Or is He Marx's Opium, a song sung by The Grateful Dead?
I only know, like the song of the ancient slave ship master,
I was lost, and now I'm found. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Facebook Posting to an Old Friend.

I wish that you would not have aged,
Nor I,
But  that we would have owned the earth forever
Like gods, we would have watched birth and decay
With the casual indifference of painless creatures
Above the usual miseries,
And trite screams of agony
Called “human.”
Yes, we would have cycled reality around ourselves,
Boring God, 
And leaving generations deprived
Of repeating our dismal patterns.
Yes, we would be untouched by corruption,
Even unaffected by our own mistakes,
Not just “Play it Again Sam,”
But play it again perfectly.
We could do that . . . 
 Except death gets in the way.
I’m pleased, 
In view of the limitations,
That we have time yet to say 'goodbye.'