Category Archives: Writing

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

This photo, titled Into Heaven is by crackindown. Used by permission.

 

Stairway to Heaven

by Mickey Mills

“It was right there,” the lanky old man said as he pointed to the old brick steps twisting their way up the hillside to the unseen landing above.

“What was?” his curmudgeon friend replied.

“That song — Stairway to Heaven, was written about those steps.”

“Are you daft or something? That song was about a girl – a rock and roll groupie of some sort.”

“That’s right,” lanky continued. “As the story goes that Palmer bloke was standing down here chugging pints with his mates when he looked up towards the top and saw this woman standing under the street lamp. She wore a long flowing gown spun from gold thread and smoked cigarettes one right after the other.”

“And how do you know all this?”

“My son went to school with those blokes.  He got the story straight from the singer’s mouth, so to speak. Went on to be big rock stars, they did, and made piles of cash playing guitars and dancing around on stage like Mick Jagger.”

“Whatever became of the girl?”

“I heard she opened up a diamond shop in Sky Plaza. Check it out yourself – Lucy somethin’-or-other is ‘er name.”



This is a reprint of a story I wrote in 2010

This story is pure fiction.  Resemblance to well-known rock stars is absolutely on purpose.
All rights reserved. Copyright 2010-2012.

eBooks

ebooksI don’t suppose I am much different from most writers. I started out as a reader. As a child I always had my nose in a book. (I had The Hardy Boys library but I don’t usually spread that around.) Somewhere between hard rock, getting married and bad eyes, I all but gave up reading. That is until eBooks gave me back the gift of the good novel.

Over the last few years my eyes were going bad and even cataract surgery was not enough to fix it. I still had to wear readers and publishers seem to be on a race to see who could achieve the smallest print that people will still pay for. As far as my eyes were concerned most books printed these days use a six-point font of unidentifiable origin. Smudge a page with that cheap-ass ink and you are done.

So after this last eye surgery and the price drop on Kindles I made the leap.

All I can say to the e-Ink gods of Amazon is thank you for giving me back the gift of reading.

With e-Readers you are able to adjust the font size to fit the eyeballs and for that reason alone it was a worthy investment. Not to mention that creating Kindle books pretty much demanded that I have a reader to test out my conversions.

Kindle FireThen late last year, Amazon launched their version of the media-rich tablet device, the Kindle Fire. Armed with a couple of Amazon gift cards and a few dollars of my own, I ordered one of these puppies and bequethed the old Kindle to my sweetheart (who fell in love with it immediately just for the host of classic literature she put on it.)

What the Fire has given me is the gift of reading magazines. The Newstand pushes in a couple of magazines each month for a fraction of the printed price. It has the added benefit of adding additional media to the magazine such as video or audio, or let you link directly out to a website. Pretty cool stuff.

The only complaints I have with the Fire is the screen glare under certain conditions and the eight gig of memory meaning I have to shuffle movies in and out as I need them. I hope the next generation allows you to add an SD card for additional storage.

If you are considering a Kindle Fire, I would wait a few weeks until the Fire 2 comes out. I’m not sure what the differences are but I’m confident it’s worthy of the wait.

Now… back to the movie playing on my Kindle Fire.

 

Creative Mind Meld

Spock Mind MeldDo you remember when Spock would reach out to someone’s face, place his fingers in a strategic arrangement and burrow his brainwaves into the person’s mind like an alien invader of thought?

We’re not going to do that today.

What we are going to do is take a little journey. An odyssey of excursion to glimpse my creative mind;  a quick peek into how I spawn a writing project. Creation… is not pretty.

To understand where I am going it helps to know where I have been. I haven’t always been a creative writer, although I have always been a creative type person. I was more like the little professor, taking things apart to see how they worked and sometimes getting them back together so they would work again. (Ask me about the radar detector some day.)

I remember as a child visiting the grandparents. Papa Mills always had a pile of lumber stacked up behind the house. Most people would see it and call it a junk pile. What idiots! Anybody with half a brain could see hidden among that pile of throw-away wood was a boat, or an airplane, or a bastion of commerce on Wall Street. With a hammer and a few nails I would take from the pile and build a masterpiece.

I look back today and see it for what it was. At the time it was the most wondrous of things that carried me away on a sojourn of thought, playful artifacts of child creation swooping me away to far reaches of the world where I could battle pirates or arm wrestle with Genghis Kahn.

Creative MindMy adult mind only sees the fragments of wood and the haphazard arrangement of nails sticking from every corner of my art-work. (It occurs to me I did all that without safety glasses or an OSHA inspector.) I completely understand the absolute peril of growing up.

So the creative centers of my mind are very child-like. When I can get those ten-year-old brain waves flowing, unencumbered by bills and bad news, the things I see are amazing. I do my best writing when I am able to shake off the shackles of adulthood and create with the mind of a child.

A blank sheet of paper is akin to a landscape ready bulldoze into shape, ready to take seed and express emotion. My job is to clear away everything that isn’t the story.

 

Encyclopaedia Britannica – Nevermore

encyclopedia britannicaBefore there was a computer in every home and smartphone, before there was an internet and a wiki, if you needed to do research you opened a book. The go-to source of reference around the world for over 200 years has been the Encyclopaedia Britannica (EB), printed in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768.

After the current print run is complete the EB is abandoning print and moving exclusively online.

“It’s the oldest continuously printed reference work in the English language,” Tom Panelas, a spokesman for Encyclopaedia Britannica, said. “In that time the company has printed a little over seven million copies.”

The company has been involved in digital publishing since the 70s and created what is probably the first of the digital encyclopaedeias, the LexisNexis in 1981.

“Many people know us as the publisher of those big multi-volume encyclopedias that have been a source of joy and learning since 1768. Today that encyclopedia is chiefly to be found in a multitude of digital forms that are updated daily,” the company’s website says.

As the company shuts down the presses and moves exclusively online, it faces heavycompetition, notably Wikipedia, the community-driven online encyclopedia most of us use daily.

With Google’s heavy linkage to Wikipedia they have become the de-facto resource for online research but at what cost. As a user community, wiki is only as good as the data put into it and errors of omission and fact are common throughout the system. As a commercial business EB stands by the reliability of its content.

There may not be the emotional attachement to the printed reference among the generation-x crowd. Many of them have never opened an encyclopaedia in their life. I remember hours spent at the library with a half-dozen books open in front of me as I turned the pages and dreamed. The wiki experience isn’t even close.

This is a loss of culture that saddens me because I see it as a technological shift away from the things that got us here.

Was it inevitable? Probably. Will we miss moving the heavy boxes of books? Not really. It’s a sad day but in 100 years it won’t matter to that generation. It will be a culture long forgotten. I barely remember the Viewmaster.

I won’t miss the paper cuts but I will miss the smell of the pages as they turn from dream to dream.

 

Lyle Prouse Memoir

Lyle ProuseI want to tell you about a man I am proud to call my friend.

One of my great pleasures over the last year is getting to know Lyle Prouse and learning about the man, his experience, his unwavering character and amazing story.

I met Lyle late in 2010 at a conference. He expressed interest in the book I had just released and was curious about the process. After the conference we kept in contact and finally Lyle decided to self publish his memoir. I decided to help him do just that.

The release of Final Approach: Northwest Airlines Flight 650, Tragedy and Triumph, is the culmination of that effort.

First off the name may be familiar to some of you. If you recall the news out of Minneapolis on March 8, 1990. A Northwest Airlines flight crew had been arrested after their incoming flight landed at the gate. The charge — flying while intoxicated.

Lyle became the butt of jokes in Jay Leno’s monologue. The media firestorm was relentless.

It was the worst day of many soon to come for Lyle. This remarkable story of courage, perseverance, patience and honor, stands out as a testimony that a man can dig deep within and find the strength to get through even the most devastating of consequences.

Lyle ProuseThe book digs into Lyle’s earliest years growing up Native American in Wichita, Kansas. It follows Lyle as he graduates high school and enters the Marine Corps as a young private. His journey from infantry soldier to fighter pilot officer is an almost unheard of circumstance.

Final Approach details his Vietnam experience, his discharge and subsequent employment with Northwest Airlines, the arrest, the trial, the prison stay, his climb back to the cockpit and ultimately a presidential pardon by Bill Clinton.

Through it all Lyle’s journey of self-awareness, acceptance and spiritual awakening,  says that a man equipped with a good dose of reality about himself and his circumstances can face anything with resolute faith and family support.

Final Approach – Print version

Final Approach – Kindle version

Lyle’s website

First Wednesday

The sun is high in the sky and temps on the plains are more like April than January. It’s the first Wednesday of 2012 and without my weirdo posts to fall back on I have to figure out what to write about. I don’t have the crutch of a regular topic to be researched and written. I have to be creative on my own and I haven’t even had coffee yet.

The horror… the horror…

The truth is I was getting a bit burned out on Weirdo Wednesday anyway.

Without a game plan, an idea or concept, I’ll be winging it, so to speak, from here on out. You’ll be getting whatever I can come up with. It’ll be a wide range of musings, my perceptions, my hopes and dreams, and my spin on current events.

I’d like to explore the obscure and mundane aspects of life. What better challenge is there than to write the minutia of one’s life and make it interesting. Now there’s a personal contest I can sink my keyboard into.  Many days will be fairly short and brief snippets of my day. Occasionally I will drift into some kind of rant, although I’m not really a ranter. (Come to think of it I could probably use the practice.)

All in all I’m looking forward to more writing in 2012.

Who knows… I may even finish Haunting Charleston.

First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!
– Ray Bradbury

My Christmas Gift to Everyone

Merry Christmas all. It’s a beautiful morning here on the plains.

As my special Christmas gift to everybody I am offering my novel HAUNTING INJUSTICE, as a FREE GIFT to download at Smashwords. This is a TODAY ONLY deal.

Head on over to  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55588, give it a download and enter the coupon code PB84D on Checkout. You will be given a %100 discount and my novel for FREE. (Today only so act fast)

Haunting Injustice“A bona fide, page turning thriller!” – Apex Reviews….

Ghosts, murder, kidnapping, technology, love and romance. This ghost story has it all. Phoenix Worthy, noted paranormal investigator, lives in the most haunted city in America, Savannah, Ga. His latest hunt brings him face-to-face with a brutal killer. The only question is… Who is more deadly–the killer or the ghosts of his victims?

Ebenezer Scrooge

Scrooge

Jim Carrey as the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843. Could Dickens have ever dreamed what would become of his little holiday novella and his dual-personality character, Ebenezer Scrooge?

Ebenezer was a sour-old soul who bemoaned life and lived a prisoner to his greed. He squandered his days in the quest for coin thinking nothing of the plight of family and friends around him.

In the end, old Ebenezer was blessed with the vision of his journey — where he’d been, where he was, and where he was going. Without defense against who he had become, Ebenezer claimed redemption, sought out the comfort of others, and became a changed man.

We’ve all known a Scrooge in our lifetime. Tear down the barriers of age, sex, and race, and remember the people you’ve known through the years. I’m sure at least one of them, likely many more, has Scrooge like qualities.

A Scrooge is selfish,  self-centered, greedy, has the means to be generous yet clutches a dime like it’s the only thing separating them from the poorhouse. A Scrooge may be haunted by their own past and couldn’t see the potential joy in tomorrow if their very life depended on it.

Scrooge and Tiny TimYou getting picture of that person yet?

I have. They look nothing like Alistair Sim, Albert Finney or Jim Carrey.

Oh and if you happen to be looking at that person in the mirror. Seek out the ghosts of Christmas past and ponder Christmas yet to come. For every Ebenezer Scrooge there are hundreds of Tiny Tims waiting for someone’s generosity and love.

The truth be known, there’s a little Ebenezer in all of us. I mean after all, we’re only human.

Writing Assignments

American TowmanIn case you’ve ever wondered what The Prodigal Scribe does (besides write incredible fiction) to pay the bills, I thought I would point you to some of my ongoing projects. You’ve already seen the Digital Art Magazine out of London I work with. Here’s another place where I hone my journalistic skills.

I piece together a weekly feature called “Illustrated” where I highlight graphics for tow trucks and other news associated with different aspects of the towing industry. It’s not sexy but it helps pay the bills.

Check out: http://towindustryweek.com/Illustrated/

Cover Letter with Testicles

In general writers, from what I can tell, are a humble lot. They send off their manuscripts or articles knowing they will be at the mercy of some editor at the other end ready to carve it into something suitable for publication. Everything is subject to edit. (Some more than others.)

Occasionally, a writer will have an unnatural attachment to something they’ve written and to watch it subject it an editors hand is more than they can bear.

Take for instance David Foster Wallace, novelist, essayist, and professor at Pomona College. Sometime in 1998, Mister Wallace faxed an essay he did on Kafka to Harper’s Bazaar.  In the cover letter the author threatened harm of immeasurable quantity should the piece be edited. He essentially demanded the piece be run intact… or else.

Cover letter to Harper’s Bazaar – 1998:

From: David Wallace

To: Joel Lovell, Harper’s [redacted] (Office [redacted])

This is pretty much the best I can do, I think. I feel shitty sticking a lot of what you wanted in FN’s, but I didn’t see any work to work it into the main text w/o having to rewrite whole ¶s and throw the thing’s Styrofoamish weight off.

The deal is this. You’re welcome to this for READINGS if you wish. What I’d ask is that you (or Ms. Rosenbush, whom I respect but fear) not copyedit this like a freshman essay. Idiosyncracies of ital, punctuation, and syntax (“stuff,” “lightbulb” as one word, “i.e.”/”e.g.” without commas after, the colon 4 words after ellipses at the end, etc.) need to be stetted. (A big reason for this is that I want to preserve an oralish, out-loud feel to the remarks so as to protect me from people’s ire at stuff that isn’t expanded on more; for you, the big reason is that I’m not especially psyched to have this run at all, much less to take a blue-skyed 75-degree afternoon futzing with it to bring it into line with your specs, and you should feel obliged and borderline guilty, and I will find a way to harm you or cause you suffering* if you fuck with the mechanics of this piece.)

Let Me Know,

Dave Wallace

* (It may take years for the oportunity to arise. I’m very patient. Think of me as a spider with a phenomenal emotional memory. Ask Charis.)

space

(Here’s a copy of the original found at Letters of Note.)

image: georgelazenby @ flickr

I especially like the skull and crossbones doodle on his signature block.