Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Poem: Some Things That Are True

Some Things That Are True

Wise ones preach “write words each day”

I’m inclined to listen to what they say

Words bleed from my fingertips; poetry

Or come hard, slow, like good sex; story

Today I determine to entertain the paper

Without using tired, stock plots, a raper

Women, children, first abused then rescued

It makes them stronger or so it’s been argued


Fuck that. I was strong at birth.


I write because no one else will listen

Except the white square, it pays attention

When I press the keys and letters appear

And I tell the tales you don’t often hear


No overused plot, busting up drug rings

Badass men or women with guns and things

Same backstory about their addicted family

Kids went to school dirty, smelly and hungry


Fuck that. Killing kingpins hasn’t solved the problem.


I inhale thoughts and exhale dialog

Mine my anecdotes to clear the fog

Throw energetic verbs at lazy nouns

Read aloud to hear how it sounds


Stop trying to shove me in your boxes

I run with wolves not with foxes

Life doesn’t have to be mean or bitter

Books don’t have to bruise the reader


Fuck that. I’ll make a cup of tea. I’ll write a laugh; write kind people; write a world we want to live in.


Judith Jennings 3/13/24

This is DWTS Mark Ballas and Lindsey Stirling version of the Paso Doble
Stirling wrote and played the music they danced to

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

About "Haroun and the Sea of Stories" by Salman Rushdie

 It was pure, unexpected, good luck that I chanced upon a book on CD written by Salman Rushdie, read by Salman Rushdie, in a library in Paducah, Kentucky. My experience of Kentucky outside Lexington or Louisville was that xenophobia was rampant so the library offering a book with such a foreign source of origin was a shock.

The book was "Haroun and the Sea of Stories". I started listening to the book in the car on the way home. It was my plan to listen whenever I drove anywhere. Sometimes things don’t go as planned. This was one of those times. 

The story and the narration were so compelling. I didn’t go home. I veered away at the last minute and went to the lake. I called home and made excuses so I could spend the next five hours listening to the book. I had water. There was a bathroom. I could take walk breaks. Why not?

Haroun Khalifa is the protagonist. He’s a young boy and he starts out believing that stories that aren’t true are useless. Which is sad because telling stories is what his father Rashid does for a living. And even sadder is the fact that Rashid’s storytelling ability is failing him.

Life is further complicated because Haroun’s mother Soraya has left him and his father for their neighbor, Mr. Sengupta. Rashid and Haroun board a yacht captained by Mr. Butt who is taking them to the Land Of K to tell stories for the campaign of a politician named Snooty Buttoo.

Haroun cannot sleep so he is awake when the yacht is boarded by a water genie named Iff whose job is to take away Rashid’s imagination. Haroun demands to speak with Iff’s supervisor, the Walrus in an effort to save his father’s gift.

Haroun and Iff’s journey through the Sea Of Stories is interrupted when they are captured by the antagonist Khattam-Shud who is determined to put an end to stories.

***Slightly off topic – does this sound familiar to anyone? Are there villains today trying to stop the telling of stories that, though true, reveal their villainous natures?***

Many things happen including magical details of Salman Rushdie’s writing that are delightful. P2C2E for example is Processes Too Complicated Too Explain which is a phrase used several times when Iff and the Walrus cannot make Haroun understand something.

Haroun and company, joined by the hero, Mali the story gardener, are investigating the Old Zone when Khattam-Shud kidnaps them. They learn that Khattam-Shud plans on plugging the Story Source at the bottom of the Sea. That source is the origin of all stories ever communicated. Mali manages to destroy the machines being used to poison the sea. Haroun diverts the giant plug meant to seal the source.

The Walrus promises Haroun a happy ending for his own personal story while Khattam-Shud is crushed under a huge statue of himself that he had commissioned.

When Rashid and Haroun return home, their city has been released from the state of misery it was in and Soraya has returned home.

Most of the plot takes place on the fictional Moon Kahani which consists of a massive ocean composed of an infinite number of stories. Each current or stream is a piece of story and Rushdie shows clearly how the pieces connect in different ways to create unique stories.   

It should come as no surprise that Salman Rushdie can write a powerful tale in the genre of magical realism. His personal magic is legendary. While loneliness and the longing for companionship are a modern-day plague, Rushdie in real life meets and marries his wife even while living in hiding because Iran’s supreme leader, Khomeni has issued a fatwa calling for his death.

Rushdie’s genius is recognized with many accolades. He was knighted in 2007 for services to literature. At the same time religious extremists hate him because of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses. He was stabbed and almost died during a speaking engagement in New York in 2022.

I only wish that this man who wrote the book which so thoroughly consumed and entertained me was writing real life today. I would embrace a happy ending. I would revel in the justice of leaders destroyed by the weight of their own oppressive, self-glorifying actions. And the victory of the restored freedom to tell any story over the attempts to squash those stories that don’t serve certain factions of humanity, would put a smile on my face everyday for months, years, decades even.

If only…

Imagine by the late, great John Lennon

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Do Walkers Write Or Do Writers Walk?


Author Barbara Kingsolver won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2023. The winning novel she wrote is titled. “Demon Copperhead”. In an interview she has said that her novel is the contemporary version of Charles Dickens novel, “David Copperfield”. It’s the “David Copperfield” of Kingsolver’s time and place.

I recently read a meme (source unattributed) that said:

“Reading and writing cannot be separated. Reading is breathing in; writing is breathing out.”

My favorite author, Jennifer Crusie believes and embodies this. Before writing her first novel, she taught high school English. She taught the gothic novel, “The Turning Of the Screw” by Henry James every year. When she taught it she thought – I could write this story better. So she did.

 Maybe This Time” is Crusie’s version of a gothic romance novel and, in my opinion, it’s better than Henry James’s book. I was lucky enough to see her speak and get my hardcover copy of this book signed.

Jenny has more than twenty novels, many of which are on the NYT bestseller list. She gets ideas from a lot of places but reading stories and watching stories definitely contribute. She has another novel that is, as yet, unpublished, titled “The Devil and Nita Dodd”. It is a novel spawned from watching the television series, Lucifer, and being annoyed by the bad writing for a show full of actors so skilled, she, and many others, me included, kept watching.

Of course, I can abuse anything, including reading. I have just started a second reread, back-to-back, of the sixteen books in Jayne Castle’s Harmony series. The current rereads are a response to the fact that she is coming out with  a new book in the series in May.

And, of course, I love that series. The first reread – okay. The second reread, procrastination my friends.

Jayne Castle doesn’t procrastinate. The author is actually Jayne Ann Krentz. She writes historical paranormal romance as Amanda Quick – love, love, love. She writes contemporary paranormal romance as Jayne Ann Krentz – again with the love. She writes futuristic paranormal romance as Jayne Castle – I think the rereads attest to the love.

Paranormal the Krentz way is not vampires or demons or werewolves. No. It’s people who have developed additional powers. For example, on Harmony, people can summon “ghosts” (not real ghosts just a deathly form of energy). They can set illusion traps which will scramble your wits if triggered. 

And they have dust bunnies as pets. Castle describes them as looking like a wad of dryer lint with eyes. The dust bunnies have names and personalities. For example, dust bunny Elvis has a cape and dark sunglasses and eats peanut butter with banana sandwiches. They are also fierce little predators who have a second pair of eyes in the back of their heads that come out when they think their human is in danger. In which case, they will use their six little paws to scurry up a villains body so they can bite their jugular vein.

One wonders, were those pets fueled by Castle finding dust bunnies under her bed? We may never know. This author doesn’t have a lot of time for interviews since, at seventy-five years of age she still puts out three books a year; one Quick, one Krentz and one Castle.

It’s well established that reading fuels writing. What are other things that further the efforts of getting a story sorted out and on paper or computer? 

I am a lover of trees and therefore ‘forest bathing’ is definite fuel for my writing. I need a whole blogpost to cover that subject alone. If you can’t wait to learn more you can go here and check out what National Geographic has to say on the topic.

Many great writers have said the only way to write is to sit your butt in your chair and put your fingers on your laptop keys. I wrote more on this in a blogpost titled Don't Wait For Inspiration. Go here for that blogpost.

 A lot of writers will tell you walking helps. The theory is that if your story isn’t moving, one solution is to move your body.  

Charles Dickens said about walking: “If I couldn’t walk fast and far, I should just explode and perish.”

Statistics agree with him. If you walk three times a week, forty minutes each time, the part of your brain that is associated with memory and planning increases in size.

Rebecca Solnit, author of the book Wanderlust; A History Of Walking said: “Thinking is generally thought of as doing nothing in a production-oriented culture, and doing nothing is hard to do. It’s best done by disguising it as doing something, and the something closest to doing nothing is walking.”

I’ve recently started intentionally walking for different purposes. It would be nice if moving my novel along was a side benefit. That would require thinking about my novel in progress while I'm walking. I would have to think about what I'm writing instead of what I'm reading as I put one foot in front of the other.

That would be more easily done if I give up on my second reread of the Harmony series. But, but, but…

Longview by Green Day