Tuesday
Sep092014

"WHAT'S IN A NAME? THAT WHICH WE CALL A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS SWEET."

For various reasons many writers find it necessary to have some or all of their works published under names other than their own.  The reason might be gender.  Many early female writers wrote under a manlier sounding name or just used initials, letting readers assume it was written by a man.  The Brontes wrote under different names to both conceal their gender and to shield themselves from their neighbors and friends who were many times depicted as characters in their novels.  Ellery Queen was a pen name for four collaborating authors.  Mathematician, Charles Dodgson wrote fantasy as Lewis Carroll using his given name on his more serious tomes.  Many well-known authors wrote porn under various names to pay the bills while waiting to get their “literature” published.  Some, prolific wordsmiths use many pseudonyms depending on the genre of their work.  Some publishers insist on pseudonyms for their various “house” series with numerous contributors writing as one.

Most of you know that we did some of our writing under an assortment of pseudonyms such as Axel Kilgore and Jack Hillock.  Axel, of course, wrote THEY CALL ME the MERCENARY series for Zebra books between 1980 and 1984.  At the time it seemed prudent to keep that series and THE SURVIVALIST series in separate corners of the bookstore racks.  John Rourke and Hank Frost were both heroic men but in totally different ways.  We kept Rourke’s character so “straight arrow” that most of the time he was totally without a sense of humor. He wouldn’t know a joke if he tripped over it; not that Rourke would ever allow himself to trip.  Hank on the other hand saw humor in everything even if it was while facing a firing squad or explaining how he had lost his eye.  Anyway, it helped us keep John Rourke in the character we chose for him if we could blame Axel for all the stupid, fun stuff in the mercenary series.  Of course there was plenty of blood and gore, much more than in The SURVIVALIST.

Jack Hillock wrote a lot of gun and second amendment articles for certain magazines when Jerry was on the masthead of another.  This happened frequently in the mid to late 70s.  Jack was able to say things that might have been at that time, not politically correct for Jerry to discuss. It was also a good way to start getting fiction looked at by publishers since Jack would get the rejection letter and not Jerry. 

We also shared a pseudonym with many other writers over the years.  We did two Nick Carter-Killmaster books in the early 80s.  There were more than 260 books published between 1964 and 1990 in the series.  Nick Carter always carried his Luger which was named Wilhelmina and his pearl handled stiletto, Hugo.  Pierre, his poison gas bomb was positioned behind his scrotum ready to release its deadly gas with just a twist.  A cross between James Bond and Derrick Flint, they were guilty pleasures to produce.

Jack “Doc” McDuff and Bob “Popcorn” Pruitt were characters we invented for the two books in the RODEO series under the pen name Red Mitchell.  McDuff, is a bronco rider and a veterinarian; Pruitt, a Brahma bull rider.  Both followed the modern rodeo circuit, with plenty of danger both in and outside the arena and the usual supply of pretty women in distress.  Good with six guns and even better with a CAR-1, they travelled in style with Popcorn Pruitt behind the controls of their Beechcraft Baron airplane.  They were both fun characters to explore.  You had the tall, dark and handsome Doc McDuff who usually played the lead and then you had Popcorn, a big burley guy who came off like a country bumpkin but was actually a pretty smart guy. 

I guess today pseudonyms are even more popular than ever.  How many of you use fictitious names on Facebook or on eBay?  Did this all start in elementary school when you had to sign your name for the substitute teacher?  How many Jim Shoes were in your class?

Thursday
Aug212014

HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL

 

 

            My youngest granddaughter just lost another tooth.  The gap she has in her smile reminds me of a tunnel for a Lionel train set.  I’ve been told she already has learned how to suck waffles through it to the other side.  There was no remorse, no longing for the baby tooth’s return, just pride in having pulled it herself.  Tooth pulling, I guess, is one of the rites of passage into adolescence.

            With the tooth removed and shown to all of her second grade class, her prize was put into a special tooth container and carried home to be carefully scrutinized by her parents. That evening at bedtime, Olivia’s tooth was buried under her pillow, ready for the tooth fairy to exchange it for something more tradable like cold cash.  She slept through the night certain that the tooth fairy would come and take care of business.

            The next morning, with all the confidence a 7 year old can muster, Olivia’s hand reached under her still warm pillow and pulled out her cash reward, just as she knew it would be there waiting for her. 

            Just like my granddaughter Olivia, we all have hope for another day, for something or someone to fulfill our dreams and expectations.  Annie always knew that the sun would come out tomorrow and so far it has, somewhere.  We are generally a people of optimism and hope.  We may have our cloudy days and maybe our rainy ones but we usually believe that things will get better no matter how serious the situation.

A small section of AN ESSAY ON MAN: EPISTLE I by Alexander Pope tells us this:

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;

Wait the great teacher Death; and God adore!

 What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,

But gives that hope to be thy blessing now.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never is, but always to be blest:

The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

 

Alexander Pope suffered from poor health his entire life and was a crippled and diminutive man, standing only 4’ 6”.  He was denied much of a formal education and was persecuted because of his and his family’s religion.  Given all the negatives in his life, he still advocated that we just don’t know the answers to everything and sometimes we need to rely on hope and faith to carry us forward.  Pope had faith in himself and despite adversities in his life pushed on and became a well known poet; one of the most quoted poets of all time and he was an esteemed translator of both the Iliad and the Odyssey. 

            Just like Pope, we need to have hope and faith in our future but we also need to rely on ourselves to make what we want happen.  That tooth may not fall out on its own; it just might need a little help.

            Hope springs eternal, just ask any child.  

 

Sharon

            

Saturday
Aug092014

AMERICANS ARE JUST GOING THROUGH A PHASE.  RIGHT?

 

            I’m confused.  I keep getting mixed reactions to what we, meaning the American public, want.  We’re all about rights. Right?  Whose rights?  Some of us understand the concept of state’s rights taking precedence over federal rights but then some people want the federal government to control what’s right, regardless of what it says in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the Untied States.  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

We want the right to free speech but are told that this is a right only if we don’t discuss certain issues or object to certain people.  By doing what most of us have been doing and saying for generations now offends certain groups of people and their cultural and religious beliefs we have become the bad guys and we should be ashamed by our behavior and stopped immediately. 

We have places now where permits have to be issued before certain religious activities can take place such as tent revivals.  In some areas citizens who want to hold prayer meetings in private homes were told permits may become necessary.  What happens when teenagers need a permit to go out on a date?  Well, some parents might like that one.  Read the First Amendment to the Constitution, people

We all want protection from bad guys but some people working with this regime want to take away the rights from our primary protectors. Guns have become evil in the hands of American citizens unless they are being employed by persons sanctioned by our government. Rather than responding to an immediate threat to ourselves or our loved ones we’re to wait patiently and unarmed for our designated protectors to arrive and save us.   Read the Second Amendment to the Constitution and you figure it out.

I see “preppers” portrayed as loonies and gun crazy gloom and doomers who want to exterminate the weak and the helpless in order to survive the apocalypse, ready to take what they believe is theirs in order to survive.  I see people no different than myself who, just like those generations before us, believe in putting up a surplus in good times for any rainy days ahead.  I see skills that may not be needed in this modern age of electricity and computers and cell towers that might come in handy on that really rainy day when the grid goes down temporarily for whatever reason.  Imagine a weather related disaster coming along and your family is stuck at home without power in the middle of winter.   

  Are you prepared to survive on your own if your vehicle is disabled miles from civilization?  Is that a coyote howling in the distance; do you hear more than one out there?  Of course you’ve got that bug out bag in the trunk full of survival gear and other  contraband items like the extra food you’ve been hording; let’s not forget that extra box of ammo.

The phrase “God helps those who help themselves” goes back as far as ancient Greece. It became more widely quoted though after Benjamin Franklin popularized it in Poor Richard’s Almanack for the year 1736.  In fact, it’s so popular that more people than you might imagine think the quote came from the Bible and some even believe that it is one of the Ten Commandments.  Our government has been trying hard to convince the general population that our needs will be taken care of if we only put our faith in “the system” and lay down our rights as individuals.  All will be taken care of.  SURE!

Have a wonderful day!

Sharon

Thursday
Jul242014

JERRY AHERN JUNE 23, 1946 -- JULY 24, 2012




Wednesday
Jul162014

FLIGHT OF THE FUTURE – PAIN

 

             For those of you who do a modest amount of flying, a new method of travel torture may soon be available to enhance your trip.  After driving to the airport, waiting in line for a ticket, waiting in line to show your identification, waiting in line to go through security with your feet unshod, waiting for your plane to arrive late and its passengers to debark and then waiting for the cleanup crew to fluff up and remove the newspapers and candy wrappers, you finally go through the magic tunnel and board your flight  A member of the crew might look at your ticket stub and point you in the only direction you can take - or not!  You find the location of your seat and instead of the usual cramped, stuffed chairs, back compartments loaded with travel magazines enticing you to go to far away places; you see a rowing machine designed for a threesome.  What the...

Airbus has applied for a patent that would entirely change the look and feel of passenger seating on “short flights.”   Looking for new ways to save on space and since passengers are not getting any smaller at this time, a new “down and dirty” concept in seating has been envisioned.   The seat has been replaced with a bicycle-style saddle that folds up when not in use like theater seats and, the fold down table is now nonexistent as  well as a head rest..

At first blush, we might just think that this might be something to try.  Assuming that reduced amenity seating translates into additional savings for the passenger on a short flight, it might be worth it.  No longer would you have to bother your neighbor to return his table to the upright position when you need to get past and into the isle nor would you have to worry about losing coins and such from you pockets falling down into the creases of your seat.  Silver linings can be found if one looks hard enough.

            As I picture these new seats in use I do see a few drawbacks.  What happens if the short trip lasts longer than anticipated a la GILLIGAN’S ISLAND?  Imagine.  The flight crew is left in the passenger compartment with hungry, thirsty passengers with back pain, a few hemorrhoid sufferers keep switching from one cheek to the other, causing the plane to rock back and forth mimicking their motions.  Somehow I see the interior darken and bolts of lightning illuminated outside the windows and rain, always rain, falling from the clouds surrounding them.  Passengers are out of their budget seats, shuffling up the isle toward the frightened stewardess, blank stares on their faces, moans coming from deep inside their tortured bodies.  Or, was I thinking about an episode of TWILIGHT ZONE?

In the spring of 2011, Jerry and I were invited by the folks at Museum Replicas/Atlanta Cutlery to visit India and see first hand how their excellent swords and costumes and many other of their products were produced firsthand.  All hyped up for our adventure, we took flight from Atlanta to Newark, New Jersey where sleet and snow greeted us.  The plane was late getting in by a few hours and then we sat on the tarmac for several more waiting in line to get deiced before the 8000 mile trip.  Once we finally got off the ground and settled in on our spacious half filled home away from home -- empty seats in our row made it possible for us to recline if we so wished -- we passed the time rather quickly reading and talking and trying to figure out my new camera that I hadn’t had a chance to take out of the container.

After 2 weeks of new and interesting experiences that I’ll never forget we returned to the airport in New Delhi and boarded the plane that would take us home.  The bus was full, not an empty seat to be had.  Jerry ended up near the back of the plane and I in a middle seat closer to the front.  The air didn’t feel like it was circulating enough, children were crawling on the floor everywhere and I felt smothered by a rather large man sitting to my right who, by the way, kept the window shade down so I couldn’t see the outside.  All I could see was the large screen on the wall up front that showed the little blip that represented us slowly making its way back towards North America.  This was the first time I didn’t have my husband sitting next to me on the plane and it wasn’t fun.  The lights were turned down low and the crew hid in the back just like parents waiting for their children to fall asleep. 

I tried sitting in my seat, I really did, for at least an hour.  Finally, my back killing me, I grabbed my purse, slid past the sleeping woman on my left and trekked towards the rear of the plane.  As I made my way back I saw Jerry who looked as miserable as I felt and beckoned him to follow me.  An island retreat awaited us in the form of a not fully occupied crew’s lounge of sorts right across from the bathrooms.  There was enough wall space for us to stand and hold hands and talk.  That became our spot for most of the 16 hour flight back home. 

Other than the seasoned travelers who must have taken some really potent sedatives, I don’t think many of the proposed new seating arrangements would have stayed in place on that flight.  I imagine passengers using whatever they could find, unscrewing or unbolting the seats and pushing them out of the way and just lying out on the empty floor, a drink beside them and a plate of food.  Oh yes, a few rows of the seats would have been left in place for the flight crew to relax in and enjoy!