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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Cloisonne Heart

This is my latest short story. It's only 10,000 words, but everyone was an agony to write. It explains semi-autobiographically a failed marriage. Normally I don't shop my stories around to other writers for their ideas before I publish. I'm usually pretty confident in my writing and as I e-publish and sell for a buck I'm content with how my stories are selling at Amazon.
When I first started writing I would solicit comment from fellow teachers, friends and family. All I got was praise for the most part. My mother helped me in some ways, but usually she fusses at my language and sexual situations.I'm also a little hesitant to ask for help because sometimes what a critic says can shatter your confidence.
This one was a piece of my soul and I wanted to make sure it was done right. I asked a fb group I coordinate if anyone would wish to read a rough draft and give me suggestions. Hank Bruce agreed and he's given the story to his wife and a friend who reviews his work. We agreed he would write a review on Amazon for me and I would write a review of his books. I've reviewed two of his books and they are the previous posts.
Here is his review of The Cloisonne Heart:
 This is a sensitive, well written and well paced story of a young man’s difficult journey through romance, education and faith. Patrick Prescott is a skillful writer who weaves the elements together as the tension builds and the marriage unravels. From the first paragraph to the last the common denominator is a piece of jewelry, a cloisonne heart. In the process the characters deal with religious training, moral issues and cultural expectations. This is a great read that leaves you with a lot to think about.

I greatly appreciate his kind words. He's presently reviewing Human Sacrifices and I eagerly anticipate his review of it as well.
For the cover picture I couldn't find a heart like the one described in the story, but I did find a plate at a Cracker Barrel on the mantle so I took a picture of it and cropped it for my cover. Struggling artists need to be creative.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Cowboy Karma

Do you remember reading O Henry? or watching the Twilight Zone?
Stories that always had a little twist at the end.
Here are four short stories ranging in time from the 1880's to the present set in New Mexico with that little twist at the end. 
A down on his luck cowboy trying to rob a stagecoach and winds up chasing off other robbers and becoming a hero only to...
A woman comes to Mountainair to visit a famous hanging tree and learns the tree is haunted.
Just two of the stories that are very intriguing. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bless the Falling Leaves

It is nearly impossible to read with tears in your eyes. After the first chapter I kept a box of tissues and a waste basket handy.
This is an intensely painful book to read because Hank Bruce with his carefully crafted words makes you feel the pain of Darfurian refugees and a homeless Vietnam veteran in the US. Anyone who reads this short story will be profoundly changed as it has done so with me.
I will never treat Christmas and the meaning of our celebration the same again. Here is the true meaning of this sacred holiday. Hank I agree, we are all orphans.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Five Years Retired

Five years ago today was my one and only day of retirement. A lawyer friend called me and asked if I would help him out on a case. He's been my client ever since. (I'm self-employed and bill him for services). Since that time between running to the courthouse, scanning, organizing files, etc. I get to write in an office far away from the temptations of television and grand kids.
In these five years I've edited, revised and done a second printing of my first novel: Optimus: Praetorian Guard.
I also discovered the joys of e-publishing on Amazon. All my books are available at amazon.com/patrick prescott/b004vc67i most of them only 0.99

Human Sacrifices was my second book. I originally wrote it as a short story while working on Optimus. I was told by my mother who was reading my rough drafts that my female characters were too weak. I wrote this story about a female teacher dealing with an abusive husband while starting out as a teacher who finds a loving husband, starts a family and desperately wants to help her student avoid gangs by caring and teaching them to read and understand the value of an education.
This was a novel I wrote over a summer in 1992 for the Ted Turner Tomorrow Awards. A friend in my Sunday School class at church was a Physics professor at UNM and asked me to proof read a lecture he was going to deliver at a convention. He suggested in his paper that with superconductive materials it was conceivable to make a modern equivalent of a magic carpet that could make anything upon it fly. So I wrote a story about trying market the first flying car.
After twenty years gathering dust I adapted it to a post 911 world where a flying car would have a lot more trouble getting government approval.
My first books written from scratch after retirement. It went through many incarnations, but is finally complete as a trilogy. A meteor hits Yellowstone in 1965 and the computer in the geology dept. of Tans Global Oil predicts the super volcano will explode in 50 to 75 years and billions of people will die. "When it hits the fan, you need a plan." TGO develops a plan to not only help the family survive this catastrophe, but what good is living through this to go back to the stone age, so the plan carried out through four generations is intended to keep civilization from being destroyed.
Fletcher Family Battles are short stories centered around the Fletcher family in the middle ages explaining the culture and warfare of the time period. There are more to come.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

George Fishbeck a remembrance

George Fishbeck passed away. I met him once when I was young. Brother and I were outside the V.A. hospital with our cockerpoo puppy while Mom was visiting Dad at the time. He and his wife walked by and asked what kind of dog she was (damn can't remember her name, have to ask Mom). When we told him he shook his head and laughed. Mom knew his wife from a club she belonged to at the time and when they met told her how thrilled we were to meet him.
He taught (at and with) Albuquerque Public Schools for 23 years. This was way way back in the day. Our local station for PBS was started as a joint project with UNM and APS. When I was in elementary school every Thursday the teacher would wheel a TV in the room and we would watch George teach science. It was a wonderful way to reach all the students in the city at once. He was funny, entertaining and I still remember some of the experiments he performed. The one that comes to mind right now was taking swabs of different things around his science lab and the next week showing us the cultures. The most disgusting was the one from his mouth. I was in fifth grade and all of us thought French kissing would be gross. Our own local Mr. Wizard or Bill Nigh the Science Guy. He would always sign off on the show by swishing his mustache and saying, "Adios muchachos and muchachas."
 On Tuesdays (it's been over 50 years so I may have the day of week wrong) a lady (can't remember her name) would do music over the TV. She was pretty and would lead us in songs kind of Mich Miller style, but if was from her I learned songs like "O' Susanna," "Down in the Valley," "Shenandoah," and other American ballads.
Once upon a time New Mexico and America did value education by building schools for the Baby Boom generation and finding ways to educate instead of drill and test. Learning is so much more than cram and mental enema.
KNME ended these programs and George went on to be a local weather man. He was the first person I remember who was announced as a meteorologist and true to his roots he made weather fun, entertaining and educational. Sadly as I was graduating high school a TV station in California lured him away for bigger bucks and he remembered more for what he did there on the national level. It is amazing how fondly he is still remembered here by all of us old foggies, but he was a hard man to forget.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Atlas Shrugged Revisited

I wasn't a teenager when I read Atlas Shrugged. I was teaching English in high school. What drew me into the story was the character Francisco D'Anconia. He was sarcastic, but in one of his rants gave one of the best definitions of money I read up to that time. It rang true. Money is a tool. The root of money is production. Money has to be made before it can be spent.
I didn't like the equation that churches and religion were "Mooching Mystics." I also can't understand the Moral Mafia preaching Atlas Shrugged and the Bible at the same time. Holy Cognitive Dissonance, Batman!
Lately Rand's become popular with the Tea Party and numerous libertarian politicians. They even ponied up the money for a movie, part one with supposedly two more to come. It was ghastly. Talk about stupid, they left our D'Anconia's diatribe on capitalism, the theme and major plot point of the the first part of the book. Without the definition of money the whole movie was meaningless!
I've also seen the movie on Ayn Rand's life portrayed by Hellen Mirren, well as an author I can tell you that trying to tie a novel into the author's life is rather silly. Her real life did not live up to her ideals, yes she took social security in her old age, so what.
 No real life person can live up to a fantasy. For the same reason basing monetary theory and the inner workings of macro-economics on a novel is just plain insane!
Communism didn't play out like Karl Marx envisioned, and there's never been a true Capitalism that followed Adam Smith to the letter and at least they were philosophical treatises not fiction.

Recently I've come across this statement used by Paul Krugman in his blog and as a sign on Facebook which just about sums up the stupidity of those trying to run the country along Randian policy:
 “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.” — [Kung Fu Monkey — Ephemera, blog post, March 19, 2009] ― John Rogers 

Rand Paul's is one of Rand's devotees and says D'Anconia's diatribe is what inspired him as he proposed his budget for 2012 in 2011 his first year in the Senate: copied from Wikipedia
...cut $500 billion from federal spending in one year. This proposal included cutting the Department of Education by 83 percent and the Department of Homeland Security by 43 percent, as well as folding the Department of Energy into the Department of Defense and eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Seven independent agencies would be eliminated and food stamps would be cut by 30 percent. Under Paul's proposal, defense spending would be reduced by 6.5 percent and international aid would be eliminated. He later proposed a five-year budget plan intended to balance the budget.
 Paul Krugman has repeatedly pointed out that his math in balancing the budget is seriously flawed and all he says to refute criticism is "Trust me." How many people would die if this was actually passed and signed into law? But then like Scrooge in Dicken's A Christmas Carol: "Let them die and decrease the surplus population." How Christian of them.

However to defend Ayn somewhat, something that D'Anconia says in his diatribe rings true, but it applies more to her disciples than the "Looters" she was condemning.

When you see that money is flowing to those who deal not in goods, but in favors -- when you see men that got richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you from them, but protect them from you. When you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice -- you may know your society is doomed. -- Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged.

Just think back to the banking crisis of 2007-8. Wall Street doesn't deal in production it deals in gambling and when they lost the gamble on housing they got richer by graft and pull (too big to fail) and our laws protected them against the people who were losing their homes and livelihoods. Isn't it amazing those who espouse Objectivism and deify Ayn Rand are the real looters? 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Going Slow

I've finally after seven years picked up the sequel to Optimus: Praetorian Guard. I always intended to have my title character on the Island of Patmos with the Apostle Paul as his scribe while writing the Book of Revelation. When Optimus was released I was doing book signings and spending a lot of money buying them from Publish America making very little after I gave away most of the books to friends and family.

When I retired and started spending more time writing and learning the beauty of e-publishing I turned a short story I wrote to develop female characters into the novel Human Sacrifices.
Then I pulled my first novel, Vander's Magic Carpet out of the moth balls and published it. I wrote it in the 1990's and submitted it the Ted Turner Tomorrow Awards. I updated it for the war on terrorism which would be problematic for flying cars.

I came across a horrible movie about Yellowstone exploding and all the damage it would do, but it got me thinking about how could we stop a natural disaster like this from wiping out most of mankind. And for the next two years I worked on my Fan Plan trilogy of Meteor Strike: can't prepare for something like this without a time schedule so I use a meteor strike to act as a catalyst and get the clock ticking. Second book was Preparation and the final book Countdown.

Then I was sidetracked by writing the Fletcher Family Battles short stories. They were fun and got me back into historical research. I still plan to write more battle stories, but finally I've decided to pick up Ancient Rome and revisit Optimus on Patmos, Stephanus his eldest son as a freedman in the palace of Domitian and Sextus the youngest son as a pilum in Legio I Minerva along the German frontier as they try to make Flavius Domitianus; the nephew of Domitian the first Christian emperor of Rome.