Some movies I never get tired of
watching. Holiday Inn, Singing in the
Rain, The Thin Man, Gosford Park, and of course, The Wizard of Oz. They’re all wonderful movies, but for none of
them do I feel a more deeply rooted affection than for The Wizard of Oz.
This weekend I watched the movie
(again) and also a documentary about all the difficulties the filmmakers fought
through to get it finished. There was such a tussle between the studio
executives and the producers, they had to start production over more than once.
In the end, five different directors worked on the film at different times—five. Victor Fleming got screen credit
for it, but he wasn’t even the last director on the film. That was King Vidor
who directed all of the Kansas scenes, including Judy Garland’s classic
rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, a
scene the studio wanted to cut. It took a lot of persistence to get the movie
not only finished, but finished right.
One of the reasons for the lasting
strength of my affection is that those characters were my friends. I only got
to see them once a year during the annual television broadcasts of the movie. (One
year my mother forbade me to watch because it gave me such bad nightmares; that
tornado, the witch and her hourglass—time running out! Those flying monkeys!
Eeek!) Despite the nightmares for a year or two, I looked forward to that
broadcast with joyful anticipation even though I knew the story; I knew Toto
would get away and the Wicked Witch would melt, (O what a world!) and the
Wizard was a phony but a sweetie nonetheless. I looked forward to it because I
loved them all. And still do.
And I kind of miss the fact that
we had to wait. Nowadays it seems like everything is accessible, anytime,
anywhere. But back in the day, we had to carry Dorothy and her friends and
their story in our memories and hearts and dreams (nightmares sometimes). We
had to keep them alive from one year to the next. Of course, L. Frank Baum
wrote a series of Oz books, almost one a year after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in 1900, until 1920.
But what are fans to do if there
is a loooong delay?
Well, fans can get very excited
and eager. Let me see, who do we know whose fans have been waiting, and
waiting, and waiting, for a new novel? Chomping at the bit, shall we say?
Author, thanks for the story! I sincerely hope there is more to come…”
enjoyed this book so much that I started in on the next one right away. I like
the new twists she gives to the fairy tales. I will certainly check all her
book is part of a series that will highlight familiar characters and tell their
tale. It’s the sort of good writing you keep coming back to again and again.”
wait to read the next one from this author.”
Now, the waiting is (almost) over. Hidden Charm, the first new Grayson novel in five years comes out later this month, and is available for preorder now. Here’s the description:
When a Charming
Prince named Sonny rescues Rapunzel from her tower prison, she rides off with
him and gets on with her life—her real life in the Greater World. They set up a
home in Los Angeles, and she begins to discover the strength of her magic.
But when Sonny
disappears, Rapunzel needs help finding him.
Enter Henry, the
Frog Prince, who works the front desk of the Archetype Place. Only Henry can
help Rapunzel find her husband because of the vast power it took to conquer
Sonny. But Henry wants nothing to do with Rapunzel or her problem. He fights
enough of his own.
A typically fun
Grayson romp through the world of magic and love.
Sometimes it takes a bit longer to not only finish a project, but to finish it right. And it is worth the wait. We trust fans have kept Grayson’s fairy tale characters and their stories alive in their hearts. And now fans new and old can get caught up in the world of Hidden Charm.
Available at your favorite bookstore June 18, 2019.
My dad was a
veteran of the largest and deadliest war in human history: World War II. Dad
was in the US Army, infantry, deployed first to North Africa and then Italy.
His unit was in combat, but the Army wisely did not ask Dad to shoot at anyone
or anything since he was so short-sighted he’d had to memorize the eye chart in
order to pass the physical. He also had pes planus, more often called flat
feet, which could also be a medical disqualifier, but somehow he hid that, too.
Despite his physical limitations, or maybe because of them, he left the army at
the end of the war with a bad back and impaired hearing from getting too close
to mortar fire, but otherwise as fit as when he joined up.
Anywhere from 56
to 85 million people, both military and civilians, were not so lucky; they died
during the six years between 1939 and 1945 from combat, torture, starvation,
and disease—all part of the war. Here’s the part that gets me: World War II was
mass destruction that included both the historic and systematic murder of six
million European Jews and the dropping of two atomic bombs that slaughtered a
quarter of a million Japanese people.
I’m proud of my
dad and his buddies. Dad kept in contact and met up with a couple them periodically
for the rest of his life. George Roth was president of Spiral Binding Co. of
New Jersey and also a wonderful storyteller. He invented a character named
Whispering Jack Smith, a member of their army unit who couldn’t speak above a
whisper, and George told stories in a whisper about their escapades together in
order to get his three rambunctious sons to quiet down at bedtime. Cooper was a
chemist and went on to some kind of illustrious career that was Top Secret, or
so I thought as a kid. They all joined up to fight Fascism, to fight Hitler,
and to fight for Freedom with a capital F. And I’m glad they did and that they
But it was
madness, all of it, and so much destruction of life and beauty and art, it was
a diabolical madness. I would say, let us not forget. But many have already forgotten.
One thing that reminds us of what we human beings are composed—imagination, compassion, creation, destruction, brutality, viciousness, transcendence—is art. At WMG, what Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith write is sometimes funny, sometimes scary or sad, sometimes astonishing, and sometimes thrilling. It’s all about humans, even the stories about aliens, and it covers everything we humans are composed of, as listed above, and more. We’re focusing on Kris’s Diving Universe this week in particular because the new novel in that series, The Renegat, is due to be published in September, but we are offering it early as part of the Diving Universe Kickstarter that ends this week.
A very cool thing about the Diving Universe is the novels take the reader on a ride through space as though space were the human spirit—vast, full of mystery and conflict with forces we don’t understand, fascinating. An early reader of The Renegat said “the 800+ pages go by so quickly, really at a thriller pace.” Because it is a thriller!
Check out the Kickstarter page and check out all the cool stuff you can get. And if you want a thrill, one that will pose no threat to your pes planus or aching back, you can get an early epub of The Renegat as a reward for a $5 pledge.
Dance there upon the shore; What need have you to care For wind or water’s roar? And tumble out your hair That the salt drops have wet; Being young you have not known The fool’s triumph, nor yet Love lost as soon as won, Nor the best labourer dead And all the sheaves to bind. What need have you to dread The monstrous crying of wind! —W. B. Yeats
I didn’t love
this poem until I was old enough to really get it. It is so loving and tender
and enchanted by the ineffable charm of innocent youth; and it is also so bitter.
When I was
young I remember seeing that bitter look on older peoples’ faces at the oddest
times. Just when I expected them to join in my delight at some wonderful plan
my friends and I had cooked up—we’ll spend a whole winter in a cabin with
nothing but a wood stove to keep us warm and we’ll write and paint and make
maple syrup in the spring; or after my friend Mina and I read Peter S. Beagle’s
I See by my Outfit and we wanted to
ride across the country on motor scooters, when we were twelve—and suddenly there
it was, trusted faces suffused with affectionate amusement, and laced with
But why? Why?
Now I know.
There comes a
day, the first of many days, when we tumble out our hair that the salt drops
have wet, and feel not joy but confusion and even fear. Not yet dread, we’re
still too optimistic for that. But the pure sweetness of dancing in the wind,
oblivious to the water’s roar, is gone forever even though we don’t know it
It is on a day like that, or shortly after, that Tiffany, Crystal, and Brittany, all daughters of Zeus, begin their stories in the Daughters of Zeus Trilogy, Kristine Grayson’s omnibus that we are publishing this week. It’s the third of four Grayson omnibuses WMG is publishing this spring.
In it, the girls have been stripped of their magic and their positions of power on Mount Olympus, and now they have to grow up. And like many teens, they must deal with a) Dad, who in their case is Zeus and doesn’t realize that the lusty days of his power and glory are over; b) their moms, human and protective, who don’t realize that despite the girls’ childhoods with the Gods, the girls aren’t as out of touch and incompetent as their moms think; c) relatives, such as Athena, Dionysus, Eros… you know; and d) the Fates. What could possibly go wrong?
course. The girls are young and have not known a fool’s triumph, nor love lost
as soon as won. But they’re about to know the ups and downs of being both teens
The first big
story I wrote as a newspaper reporter was about a cold murder case. I was
fascinated by how the case that had gone cold for 23 years had eventually been
solved by two detectives. They let me look through all of the investigation
files once the court case was closed and a woman had been sentenced to 9 years
in prison for killing her husband. She shot him in the back with a 12-guage
shotgun early one morning in the shoe repair shop they owned. She put their
six-month-old daughter down to sleep in the back office, picked up the shotgun
and loaded it, and went into the store to kill her husband.
Then she called
the police. Crying, sobbing, and barely understandable, she said her husband
had been shot during a robbery. A strange man shot him and fled out the back
door into an alley. There was a manhunt and over the ensuing months several
suspects were lined up for her to identify, but she never claimed any of them
was the guy. The case went cold.
But the key to
its solution lay right in the heart of the police department. When the two
detectives went back over the files 23 years after the murder, they noticed
something missing: an interview with the widow where the detectives confronted
her about the disastrous state of the family finances for which her husband
held her responsible, and the improbability of anyone choosing to rob a small
shoe repair store with a shotgun early on a weekday morning, and then vanishing
into thin air. Why hadn’t they grilled her about her story?
Because the lead
detective on the case, a star in the department, was having an affair with her.
whether murder or otherwise, are fascinating partly because they have already
defeated the people whose job it was to solve them. Maybe the detective had a
giant blind spot, or there just wasn’t any evidence. The colder the case, the
tougher to solve. But also, when a case has gone unsolved for a long time, the
people involved go on about their lives, sometimes they change, sometimes they
reinvent themselves, sometimes they bury secrets so deep even they can’t
This week WMG is
having a special promotion of one of our most popular series: Dean Wesley
Smith’s Cold Poker Gang. A small group of retired Las Vegas detectives get
together to play poker once a week, eat Kentucky Fried chicken, drink iced tea,
and solve cold cases. Oh and indulge in a little romance.
reviews of these novels have been very entertaining, partly because people are
so clearly enjoying the books. Here’s a typical review from a reader:
Retirees to the rescue!
Who says retirees have to sit on the porch in a rocking
chair? These retired detectives sure do not. Mr. Smith created a great mystery
and an underlying story as well. I really liked that cuss words were
unnecessary as were gory details. It just goes to show that when you are a
great writer, you don’t have to use these. Can’t wait to read more of the adventures
of these retirees!”
The series starts with Kill Game, and it is free! The rest of the series (eight novels so far) are lining themselves up for anyone who is ready to get a start on their summer reading.
Dean says he often starts a book by choosing a title. He was a professional poker player so all of the Cold Poker Gang novels have titles that relate to poker: Cold Call, Calling Dead, Bad Beat,Dead Hand, Freezeout, Ace High, and Burn Card. The next novel, Side Pot, has had me wondering what it’s about since he announced it…
I’ll have to
wait to find out. In the meantime, play big to win big and get the whole
series. You could end up with a royal flush!
I imagine the
conversations between my two elderly male cats as sounding like Vladimir and
Estragon (Didi and Gogo) from Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot. Didi and Gogo’s dialogue runs along the lines: “Gogo:
Let’s go. Didi: We can’t. Gogo: Why not? Didi: We’re waiting for Godot. Gogo:
My Ollie and
Grayson would no doubt sympathize with Cookie Monster when he called Sesame
Street’s production, Waiting for Elmo,
“A play so modern and so brilliant it makes absolutely noooo sense to anybody.”
But, really, waiting
is as natural to cats as napping. Deep thoughts, likewise. Given the time and a
quiet space, cats will solve all problems, mostly by out-waiting them.
the noiseless tenor of Ollie and Grayson’s way was abruptly demolished. It
happened like this:
black and white; Grayson, large and gray; both washing up in readiness for
their post-breakfast naps.)
(A sound of
(They lift their
heads in unison.)
Ollie: What was
that? Is someone here?
Ollie: Who is
Ollie: Let’s go.
(He jumps off the bed where most of these conversations occur. Ollie pauses by the bedroom door. He thinks, “Closet? Kitchen cupboard?” Where to hide? What’s closer, safer? He makes his calculations .)
breaks loose outside. Banging so loud it hurts the eardrums and knocks a
picture off the wall. Men yell to each other and laugh—the brutes! An
excruciating wrenching sound, like the Titanic breaking up as it goes down in
icy waters. Pounding, pounding—will it never stop? Ollie bolts for the closet. Grayson,
fatter and arthritic, looks around helplessly, and then heaves his bulk off the
bed and lumbers down the hallway to the “safety” of the kitchen.)
Let us draw a
curtain on this tragic scene. It went on all day. The drama did not end well.
For cats, anyway. Certain indignities and hurt feelings should be relegated to
the dark shadows of unrecorded history.
The new siding
for the house looks nice, but boy it makes a lot of noise going up.
As always, Pulphouse offers up a smorgasbord of
short fiction, some of which tickles you, some knocks you upside the head, and
some slaps you on the back with slightly off-color bonhomie. The first story
this time is called “The Fur Tsunami,” by the late Kent Patterson. It, like
Beckett’s Godot, is an absurdist
comedy with tragedy at its core. And it’s about cats. Lots and lots of cats.
issue includes stories from Pulphouse
favorites such as Patterson, Annie Reed, Kevin J. Anderson and O’Neil De Noux,
along with some who are new to this publication, Brenda Carre and Robert J.
The Cutting Edge of Modern Short
A three-time Hugo Award nominated
magazine, this issue of Pulphouse Fiction Magazine offers up
fifteen fantastic stories by some of the best writers working in modern short
fiction. No genre limitations, no topic limitations, just great stories.
Attitude, feel, and high quality fiction equals Pulphouse.
“The Fur Tsunami” by Kent Patterson “Unnatural Law” by J. Steven York “A Cherub by Any Other Name” by Annie Reed “PMS and a Hand Grenade” by Brenda Carre “The Disappearing Neighborhood” by Robert J. McCarter “Hello Brain, It’s Me” by Ray Vukcevich “Eye of Newt: A Dan Shamble Zombie P.I. Adventure” by Kevin J. Anderson “Knock on Wood” by Rob Vagle “Featuring Martin and Lewis” by O’Neil De Noux “Double Date” by William Oday “Sleeping with the Devil” by Kelly Washington “Upgrade? Up Yours” by Jerry Oltion “Between” by M. L. Buchman “The Thousandth Atlas” by Robert Jeschonek “The Injustice Collector” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch “Minions at Work: Burn Noticed” by J Steven York
Get this lively
issue full of entertaining stories by your favorite authors starting Tuesday,
you could just spare a sympathetic thought for cats; the demons who are replacing
the siding on our house will continue their dark rites on Monday.
I am an opera
lover—not a taste that I share with many of my friends. Years ago when the
Metropolitan Opera still toured the country every year, I would go and sit
night after night alone to experience La Bohème,
Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and Carmen.
Opera is really about emotion and music, and particularly in the great tragic
operas, it’s about Fate.
The stories themselves
could be ripped from today’s headlines: poor young girl dies of tuberculosis
after quarreling with her lover; woman commits suicide when her heartless
foreign lover deserts her; when a rather naïve soldier falls for a gypsy
dancer, he kills her after she leaves him for a famous matador. They could have
ended differently; Butterfly blackmails her unfaithful former lover into
providing for herself and their child, and becomes a wealthy businesswoman, for
But Fate! Fate
will not be hoodwinked into prosaic endings. When Carmen turns over her cards
and each one says La Mort, death!,
she understands quite well that nothing awaits her but doom. (No one tries to
comfort her by saying, “Well, everything happens for a reason.”)
All of this came to mind this week as we prepare to release Kristine Grayson’s whimsical trilogy, The Fates. Her Fates are quite different. For one thing, there are three of them, and they can’t agree about much of anything let alone dooming lovers to premature death; for another, Grayson’s Fates do not hide in the background and move people around like chess pieces; they get right into the action and mix themselves and everyone else up. But the biggest difference is that no matter what they do, their endings are always happy. Ever after, in fact.