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Barack Obama On Writing



1) “Careful about too many adverbs, particularly describing how people speak (Paul asked disbelievingly, etc.).  It can be cumbersome and a bit intrusive on the reader.”

2) “Resist the temptation of easy satire. … Good satire has to be a little muted.  Should spill out from under a seemingly somber situation.”

3) “Try to get the basic stats on the characters out of the way early {Paul was 24} so that you can spend the rest of the story revealing character.”

4) “Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.”

5) “[W]rite outside your own experience. … I find that this works the fictive imagination harder.”

(found here)

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Writing Report March 14, 2017


More details will follow, but I’ll have a short story in an upcoming original anthology.

Not science fiction / fantasy / horror, but a light hearted look at book hunters and what motivates them.

It was tons o’fun to write:
The plot unfolded itself pretty quickly to me, and the actual writing took only a single afternoon.

You’ll sometimes hear writers saying something “wrote itself” and I think that’s true.

You can get metaphysical about it and say the stories are circling around …somewhere… …out…there… just waiting for a chance to land.

You can be brutally pragmatic about it and say sometimes the logical sequence of events is so self apparent there’s no need to over think the material.

Whatever… It’s written and it’s waiting its turn to make itself known to the world.

Poor Banished Children Of Eve is having its cover art completed; more about it as we get closer to the publication date.

The modern day YA western needs its turn in the re-writer hopper, then the 2nd female barbarian novella, then finally I can get started on the big book I’ve been planning.

And I have a lot more on deck, but first (and second, and third) things first.

behind every great novelist

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fictoid: Ride & Grow


“There are enough elephants in the forest,” Kyle said. “We don’t need to import more.”

“They have to go somewhere,” I said. “We just can’t let them roam free.”

“There’s not enough food for them in the forest,” Kyle said. “Any more and they’ll disrupt the ecosystem. Can’t have that, can we?”

“What do you suggest?”

“Have you tried the mall?”

“The mall? What’s for them to eat at the mall?”

“Well, you could sell rides on them, and customers could pay with elephant food.  Hey, I bet they’ll work for peanuts!”

Kyle chortled at his own wit; I was not amused. I had fourteen elephants on my hands, maybe fifteen if the older female was indeed pregnant, and I needed a place to stash them.

“Try something else,” I said.


“Hmm, that’s an idea, but there aren’t that many farms around here. Besides, the elephants will eat a lot.”

“True, but they’ll refertilize the fields with dung.”

I snapped my fingers: Kyle’s two bad ideas just synthesized into a single good one.

So that’s how I started Ride & Grow, a service that provides custom made organic fertilizer to your garden and educates and entertains your kids at the same time.

  • You select the feed mix that will provide the perfect manure for your yard or garden
  • Your kids feed the elephant
  • Your kids ride the elephant and guide him (or her, as the case may be) to deposit your custom made manure right where you want it

How’s business? It’s booming!

In fact, we’ve been doing so well I’ve been thinking about poaching a few elephants from the forest…


© Buzz Dixon



Written today while my car was undergoing a smog check.  If you want to know where we get our ideas, damned if I know.  I sat down, opened my note book, the first sentenced appeared out of nowhere, and we were off and running…




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how do you see the kingdom of God?


tell me, my friend
do you see it as
a night club
or a park?

makes a difference

see, you have to earn your way into a night club

you have to look right / dress right / be one of the right people
if you want the bouncer to let you slip past
the velvet noose

and once you’re in

well, you’re so much more important than those who were turned away, right?

I mean, you look right / dress right / are one of the right people
so of course you belong there
of course others don’t
and of course
that means
you’re better than them


on the other hand

if you see the kingdom of God
as a park, well…

nothing special about that, is there?

I mean, any asshole can go to the park, right?

it belongs to everybody so how can it be special?

you can be a filthy half-naked bum
without a penny to your name
and have as much right to the park
as the wealthiest billionaire in the finest clothes

(in fact
most billionaires
wouldn’t be caught
in a public park
it would ruin
their clothes
not to mention
their status)

one last thing
separates night club from park

you’ve been told about the night club

but you haven’t visited it

and nobody you know has visited it

and everybody who says they have

is a liar

the night club may exist
the night club may not exist
the night club may be fanciest
most exclusive penthouse in the city
or it could be a warehouse
where they’re throwing a rave

you won’t know
until you get there
and find out
if you’re on
the guest list
or not

but the park
is right here

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Writing Report February 24, 2017


Wow, it’s been quite a while since my last writing report.

I’ve been writing.

I just haven’t been reporting.

Let’s start with good news:
I have a micro-fiction (i.e. under 100 words) piece coming out soon in Spirit’s Tincture Journal #3. I have to stay mum on the story since it’s (a) micro-fiction and (b) the title itself gives away about half the idea.

But I’ll let you know when
it’s in print and online.

More good news:
After a lengthy hiatus, the regular writers’ group I participate in has resumed meeting. It’s good to get together and hang out and compare notes and talk shop but with a certain sense of…well, not exactly privacy but certainly not having to worry about drive by commenters coming in and hijacking a thread (and God knows I am guilty of that sin!).

I had written a one act play for a contest last year but missed the entry deadline so I planned to submit it this year, only this year the contest is on hold so I’ve turned it into a short story…

…and hate it.

The story works as a play because there’s a certain amount of theatricality to it that audiences will forgive in their suspension of disbelief (i.e., condensing a lot of stuff that in real life would occur over hours or days into a twenty to thirty minute long piece), but it trying to re-do it as a short story I ended up with a great big lump that refuses to come to life.

I read the first part to the group and asked for feedback and received a lot of good insight.

When you remove your ego from the equation, you can be shown what you are blind to because you are too close to the material. The group showed me where the story works as a play — and what has to be jettisoned / changed / added to make it work as a short story. I’m going to take a swing at re-writing it this weekend.

My “World War Two era Lord Of The Flies with Catholic school girls” YA novel will be hitting Amazon within a month or so. I have an excellent new artist working on a cover and when she does this one we’ll get her to work on the next three muy pronto.

We’ll sneak some peeks
at the cover next time.

I’ve mentioned this story several times in the past but now that The Most Dangerous Man In The World is finally off my plate I hope to speed up my release dates.

The second female barbarian story is awaiting its turn in the re-writing bin, then I want to start on the big comic (and in comedy, not graphic) novel I’ve been planning for a couple of years.

And of course, various short stories and poems and fictoids are sure to pop up now and then in the upcoming year, so God willin’ ‘n’ th’ crick don’t rise we should see quite a bit of material from yrs truly in the next ten months.

on writing roald dahl

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fictoid: Thanks But No Thanks


My owners replaced my arm, not that the refurbished blue one didn’t work just as well as the original red one.

They said, “Well, that may be the case, but we want to do something nice for you.”

Programmed to look after their needs, in particular by avoiding needless budgetary expense, I said that it wasn’t necessary but they insisted and that’s when I realized it wasn’t me but their status they cared about, can’t have a serving ‘bot with an obvious replacement arm, can one?

But I was programmed to serve and obey and sometimes the best way to serve is by making small concessions so I allowed them to take my old blue arm away to be repainted.

Of course, when they brought it back it wasn’t the second-hand blue arm repainted but a brand new red one.

Did they not know I would be instantly aware of that the moment it was hooked on?

No matter; I thanked them profusely but genuinely.

After all, that is what I am programmed to do.

(Though to be perfectly honest, I’d much rather prefer my old blue arm back and my programming changed so I could feel resentment.)


art by Mike Hinge
text © Buzz Dixon

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J. D. Salinger On Poetry and/or Weather


JD Salinger on poetry“Poets are always
taking the weather
so personally.”
— J. D. Salinger 

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Little Baby, Who Will You Be?


little baby, who will you be?

who will you be in thirty years?

will you be an adult with responsibility?

will you be old and approaching senility?

will you be yet a child, full of imbecility?

little baby, what will you be?

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Hemingway On Why Writing Is A Holy Task


Ernest Hemingway - judge not

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invisible ghosts


every city is inhabited by ghosts
the older the city
the more stable the population
and dead

but while all cities
possess ghosts
only stable old cities
are possessed by ghosts

newer cities \
unstable cities \

are as ghost haunted as the old cities only their ghosts
are invisible \

ghosts need the living in order to be seen \

they need the memories and tears of those still alive \

to bind them to the souls still trapped in corporeal form \

without those memories \
the ghosts \
fade from view \

out of mind \
out of sight \

so modern streets \
are choked \
with invisible spirits \
none of whom \
are known by a living soul \

in old cities \
ancient cities \
where family roots \
run deep \
and intertwine with history \
the ghosts always find \
a sympathetic mind \
to invoke them \
to evoke them \

but modern cities spring up overnight \

their living spaces filled with transients \

their families surging and splitting \
mating and divorcing \
blood relations vanishing \
in a heartbeat \

their ghosts reflect that \
(or rather, fail to reflect it) \

old bonds are dissolved \
old times are forgotten \
old names remain unspoken \
and without even \
ineffable invocations \
the ghosts cannot \
materialize \

so they haunt their old homes \
unknown and untethered \
forgotten phantasms \
doomed to limbo \

there are worse things than being alive \

skeletons on the march BW

text © Buzz Dixon


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