Awful Inspiration: War on the Page

The first war novel that truly moved me was Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. It’s a wrenching story, set in World War I, and I read it in my teens. Nonstop. Spellbound and aghast. How did Trumbo write such a powerful novel that it has stuck with me for all these years? Trumbo’s antiwar novel is set in motion by a sound, a ringing phone, a small detail that draws the reader into the story. Instead of launching into exposition, instead of describing the global Continue reading →

Jiggery-pokery and Elections and 2.0 US Fluid Ounce Pours

It’s been a dark week, a dark month, a dark year for news. Countless writers are covering current stories—some with intelligence and sensitivity, many without—and after I absorb what I can, my eyes wander and my mind leaps at the chance to follow. While perusing news-lite this morning I came across the word “rejiggering”—think it was in the Huff Post—and that made me think of jiggering, meaning a person or thing that jigs, and before you picture someone dancing wildly, remember that to jig means Continue reading →

Wading into the Debate

It’s controversial, and some of you are going to be mad, but at the risk of offending sensibilities I feel compelled to take a stand on that age-old debate: dogs or cats? Now, I love them both—don’t get me wrong—but when it comes to storytelling, dogs make worthier subjects. Forgive me cat lovers. This isn’t to say that cats aren’t fascinating in real life. Cats are softer, and I might even argue that kittens are cuter than puppies. But on the page, dogs rule. Readers, Continue reading →

A Distant Mountain

  I’ve come to face the startling idea that my entire life may have been outlined by a movie back in 1963, and I’m not kidding. My Old Man didn’t go to the movies very often when we were kids, because he usually didn’t like the subject or actors, but he was a fan of drive-ins on occasion. That was especially true when one of his “players” appeared in the film. While Mom was away with Little Brother, visiting my maternal grandparents in Lamar County Continue reading →