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About this page….

Thank you for visiting and sharing your comments. I’d also appreciate your advice on improving this relatively new page.

My name is Don Mulcare. I’m on permanent vacation (retired) after doing 35 to life in a state institution (The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth as a professor of biology.)

Retirement is a chance to do something else, especially the things that could not happen while working full time. The vegetable garden has fewer weeds and more vegetables. The compost heap runs hot and heavy. Travel is more practical and writing can change from occasional articles, lab handouts and letters of recommendation to fiction, book reviews and comments on travels.

Life is an adventure. That includes broken arms and making mistakes. It is better to learn from the adventure than dwell on the downside.

God Bless!

The Biscuit Bandit in WRiTECLUB

Your story reminded me of O. Henry and a scene from Les Miserables where the pastor gives the churches silver to Valjean. Hope you win the contest.

Word Craft

I’ve returned from a short hiatus of editing stories to submit to contests for #shortstorysunday. The story below was one I submitted to the WRiTECLUB Contest last year. I’ve submitted 2 stories for this year’s competition, so be sure to click the link and watch the bouts to see 30 brave writers compete anonymously for the top prize. The winner is chosen by you, the readers who take time out of your day to read two stories and leave a few encouraging words and a vote. It takes 3 weeks for all the contestants announced, so 137 writers will be checking in with baited breath!

Voting starts on April 29th, so bookmark the link now!

The Biscuit Bandit

Fritz glanced back, stretching his hand towards the steaming biscuit. It disappeared into his pocket, and Fritz sighed at the warmth. A second biscuit followed.

Then he saw it: the little cake…

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Unforgettable Fictional Friends

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We read novels because we care about the people who live between their pages.

William Shaw develops fascinating characters. Each person is vulnerable and brilliant in his or her own way, including the cast of The Birdwatcher.

Police Sergeant William South serves as Neighborhood Officer in the coastal patch of Kent in Southeastern England near Dungeness. He’s a first responder and the man who tracks down an elder who has lost his way. He keeps an eye on the local drug scene and chases shoplifters. A solitary man, South spends hours along the beaches and bogs looking for unusual birds.

On page one, when Sergeant South is ordered to assist in a murder investigation, he begs off because it’s October and prime birdwatching season and although no one else knows, William South is a murderer.

Luck abandons the Sergeant. The Dungeness victim happens to be his next-door neighbor and fellow birdwatcher. He’s torn between exposure and helping the Serious Crime Directorate find his friend’s murderer. He could leave the investigation in its early stages or later when told to stay away. Call it fate, but even official duties and ordinary acts like shopping or helping a friend, drag him deeper into the mystery. Each involvement redoubles his risk of exposure and even death.

Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi’s past drives her from the Metropolitan Police and London. She’s desperate to make a strong first impression in Kent. A guilt-ridden single mother, she weighs professional success against her daughter Zoe’s adjustment to Kent.

Cupidi sees Neighborhood Officer South as an asset in her investigation. He knows the victim, the territory, and the shortcuts. Their relationship deepens as South eases tensions between Cupidi and Zoe. He rescues Zoe from bullies at her new school and hides her indiscretions.

Zoe is mature beyond her age—an adult trapped in the life of a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl. She loves and understands her mother. At the same time, Zoe compromises Alexandra’s professional and personal life. She can’t talk to her mother or the “cows” at school. Surprisingly, she confides in William South and plays matchmaker between him and her mother. Bored, Zoe gives birdwatching a try. Her drawings of birds in flight capture their jizz, amazing the experienced South.

The murderer lurks in the shadows and hides in plain sight. He or she may be stalking Cupidi, Zoe, or South. Cupidi believes that it must be a man. A woman could never kill with such violence and frequency, “Someone who literally cannot control themselves, or doesn’t want to. Someone so consumed with anger they cannot stop.”

Cupidi is anxious to close the case and secure her place in the Kent Serious Crime Directorate. When someone fits her image of the killer, South challenges her conclusions. His experience as a murderer suggests someone else is guilty.

Birds and birdwatching add color and plot twists. Birdwatching focuses on the extraordinary visitors, not the local gulls and sparrows—migrating species and individuals blown off course by ocean storms. South’s birdwatching parallels his police work. The Sergeant scans for anything unusual—a broken window, an abandoned automobile, or a group of individuals camped on a beach. South applies his birdwatching techniques to the murder investigation—high power binoculars and stakeouts even the birds can’t detect.

The Birdwatcher is two stories in one. Each chapter ends with a snippet set in Northern Ireland during The Troubles. Parallels between the life of young Billy and adult William include their interest in birdwatching and their fear of murder investigations.

The first page of The Birdwatcher accuses William South. Could he get away with murder, suffer imprisonment, or fall prey to the Kentish murderer? He’s an engaging character with great potential. Does he have a future?

 

 

The astronaut attitude

getoutoftherecliner

Not everything has to be geared towards achieving a specific future purpose to be worthwhile.

Let me rephrase that:

Don’t try to live in the future. Appreciate the present.

My dad was a storyteller. He grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, and he had a great fund of stories featuring hard work, honesty, thrift, and generosity. The theme, in addition to whatever specific value was being imparted, was that living by that value would pay off in the end. Hard work pays off in a satisfying career. My dad’s thrift as a child enabled him to lend his parents money when times were tight in the Depression. His honesty in remembering all winter that he had to repay a penny as soon as the roads cleared earned him a whole bag of penny candy from the surprised storekeeper. His mother’s generosity to a band of traveling Cree people was…

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Lessons of the Road

amyhenrybooks

Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to. 
Don’t try to see through the distances. 
That’s not for human beings. 
Move within, but don’t move the way fear makes you move. 
(Rumi)

[The Spin: What better time than April, the month of Earth Day, to recycle a post from another April—with several spiffy additions applied like a new coat of (non-toxic) paint?

The Truth: Major time-crunch this past month—final revisions, agent searches, query letters. Every writer knows the drill. I promise to be back next month with a scintillating brand new post. Until then, rejoice. We have survived another winter.]

When I was in my twenties, I imagined that by 40 or so (when I imagined such an advanced age at all), I would have acquired a certain grace at living. Grace implied to me a kind of sanguine wisdom, the possession of which…

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A Mynah Work: Seeds of Thought/Poetic Injustice

 

Tripper RIP June 17,2011

This is what happens when you plant catnip seeds.

 

Corn Seeds

After the frost,

Is lost.

We rubes,

Plant corn in TP tubes,

Port and starboard;

In tubes of cardboard.

 

Where does one plant parsnips?

You can plant them in the road.

Or feed them to a toad.

Poke them with a goad.

And make them wear a snood.

 

 

A mynah work: Molokai

 

An owl, would make them howl.
A hawk, would end their squawk.
They’d snag those noisome mynahs.
And turn them into dinners.

Talons, the pests would fear.
They’d pay their own airfare.
To another island rally.
And liberate the pali.

 

Sea Song

Musical pun

Is all in fun

Tune a fish!

Kabob a shish

Water the dish

And get your wish

 

 

Poetic Injustice: The spirit of the potato rises with the moon

 

Drink the white lightning.

Are your spirits brightening?

Especially when distilled.

That’s why the soil is tilled.

 

Have you tasted any?

You can be so canny.

Not that I remember.

Don’t be a dissembler.

Maybe I blacked out.

You’re no Boy Scout!

 

It will be our secret.

You will be discreet.

Well, thank the Lord for that.

No tit-for-tat.

 

With confidentiality-

Let’s begin.

Will Poitín wash away,

The stain of sin?

 

Yes, if used at baptism!

You’ll start another schism.

‘Twould have to be dilute. **

And the pastor mute!

 

** A minute impurity in Baptismal water would neither add to nor detract from the sacrament.

 

Rain, at Last

 

Raindrops pound while sleep we must.

They rinsed the leaves and touched the dust.

Sadly, all the roots still lust.

Stormy only wet the crust.

Self publishing 2 – improving

Clarissa Gosling

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In the previous post in this series I wrote about the importance of sitting down to write. You can’t succeed self publishing books if you have nothing to publish.

As well as writing, and the pure drive to get words on the page, you need to be looking to improve your craft of writing. Make what you do write better. And understand that this is a lifelong task – as long as you are writing there is always something to improve.

Story structure, characterisation, emotional resonance, dialogue, descriptions, outlining methods, how to create tension, … this list can go on and on. And I have by no means mastered any of them! I am still finding out what works for me. I find this really exciting – a challenge to see how my writing improves the more I do it. Trying to find new ways to describe things. Description…

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From Oasis to Atoll

 

More than a half-century ago, four members of a wedding headed west traversing four states, the Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. At two in the morning, we lost our way in a desert of Iowa corn. We scrutinized our paper road map to no avail. Ahead and to our right, mercury-vapor lamps buzzed their sharp blue rays at an isolated house and barn. Being city-folks, we decided—perhaps irrationally— that we might find ourselves on the receiving end of buckshot if we approached the sleeping homestead, so we looked to the sky for guidance—prayers and celestial navigation.

For some reason, Iowa had more stars than we’d seen in our cities. Nevertheless, we found the Big Dipper and Polaris. Reoriented, we zigzagged along any westward trail we could find until we stumbled upon a paved road with highway signs. What a wonderful feeling to locate ourselves on the roadmap. In time, we connected with Route 20—a road that runs from Boston to Oregon. Twenty steered us through endless Iowa-cornfields, across Missouri, and into the endless Nebraska-cornfields. Eventually, Route 20 brought us to O’Neill Nebraska. Handwritten directions guided us to the bride’s family farm—an oasis of trees amid the endlessly dry and sand-colored rows of corn. In true oasis fashion, the family welcomed us as friends they’d never met, offering us food, and a place to sleep. The rehearsal, the wedding, the celebration, and the times in-between remain fuzzy but pleasant memories.

Our hosts explained that oasis trees were a luxury—something like pets or exotic plants. The plains were meant for grass, not trees. Trees may survive along river or stream banks, but on a farm they needed TLC, especially watering during dry-spells. In return, cottonwoods, oaks, and walnuts blocked some of the wind and cooled man and beast in summer.

My image of the oasis surrounded by Nebraska corn suffered a devastating jolt during the news coverage of this week’s bomb cyclone in the plains, including Nebraska.  Ariel images revealed fallow farmland flooded from horizon to horizon. Occasionally, rings or clusters of trees—like atolls—surrounded flooded houses, barns, and sheds. I’m not sure how O’Neill fared, but it has likely suffered crippling losses. Fortunately, my friends survived, although the floods swept away a local access road.

Meteorologists predict the worst is yet to come. As snow and ice melt upstream and the flooding swells rivers to the south. Destruction and misery will multiply downstream. The short and long-term consequences will challenge the skills and resources of emergency managers and stress the agricultural sector already suffering from tariffs.

As in Louisiana and California, levy-failures exacerbated property loss and environmental degradation. The USA has long ignored infrastructure. Supposedly, both Parties agree on this issue.

Nikita Khrushchev said, “We do not have to invade the United States. We will destroy you from within.” From the looks of our infrastructure, the USA is on its way to destruction. Thanks to Nikita and his ilk, our obsession with defense spending for tanks and aircraft that the Generals have rejected has shortchanged infrastructure. Neglect and misguided priorities have begun to process of destroying America from within.

 

 

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