Dear Ray Bradbury

I just had to write to thank you, thank you, for the great times, the pleasures of reading your work.  There’s no sense letting a little thing like your death in 2012 prevent me from expressing my gratitude, is there?

220px-Ray_Bradbury_(1975)_-cropped-Sorry, I haven’t read all your books and stories.  I’ve read less of your canon than I have of Jules Verne’s, Isaac Asimov’s, or Robert Heinlein’s.  But, oh, the few of your books I digested left lifelong mental imprints:  Something Wicked This Way Comes, Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, Now and Forever, and The Martian Chronicles.  In high school, I read your short story, “The Flying Machine,” and my recollections of it inspired my story, “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai,” written decades later.

At one point, you declared you wrote fantasy, not science fiction.  In my view you blended the two.  You made science sound like fantasy.

Moreover, your flowing style of writing contrasted with that of the hard-science fiction writers.  Their stories conveyed a love of machines, of science.  Yours proclaimed a love of word imagery, of the magic of English, of poetic prose.

The authors of hard science fiction told me tales of technical detail.  You sang me stories of marvel and wonder.

I guess I’m trying to say that I write more like those other guys, but wish I could write like you.

On occasion, you related a particular memory from when you were about twelve.  At a carnival, one of the performers known as Mr. Electrico touched an electrical sword to your nose which made your hair stand out.  You claimed he told you, “Live forever!”

In a very real sense, Mr. Bradbury, you will.  Thanks again.

                                                            Poseidon’s Scribe

December 22, 2013Permalink

Drunk and in Charge of a Bicycle

Years ago, while reading Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, I was struck by a memorable passage.  He’d titled the fourth chapter “Drunk and in Charge of a Bicycle.”

After stating that he’d read how other authors found writing a difficult chore, Mr. Bradbury wrote:

Zen - BradburyBut, you see, my stories have led me through my life.  They shout, I follow.  They run up and bite me on the leg—I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite.  When I finish, the idea lets go, and runs off. 

That is the kind of life I’ve had.  Drunk, and in charge of a bicycle, as an Irish police report once put it.  Drunk with life, that is, and not knowing where off to next.  But you’re on your way before dawn.  And the trip?  Exactly one half terror, exactly one half exhilaration. 

Always fun to read Bradbury; even his nonfiction hums with an electric rhythm.  But today I thought I’d examine his metaphor a bit, since it has stayed in my mind for at least a decade.

Drunk on bicycleI understand why it appealed to Bradbury.  First, the phrasing is a bit odd to American ears, and he often sought interesting new ways to express ideas.  Second, I’m sure he had a distinct mental image of what it would be like to be drunk and in charge of a bicycle.  That idea of going somewhere but not knowing where; the wobbly, weaving way you’d be ever on the edge of falling.  Bradbury saw that as being akin to his writing experiences.

Third, I’m sure he enjoyed the concealed contradiction, the playful paradox, inherent in the words “drunk, and in charge.”  There’s no doubt the bicycle rider is going where the bike goes.  If arrested, there’s no doubt whom the police would hold responsible.  But who, after all, is really in charge?  If you’re drunk, as Bradbury says, with life, then you’re in the grip of events beyond your “charge” and it’s your stories that are leading you.

That muse of yours, then, is the one in charge.  You follow where she beckons even when that way seems outlandish or bizarre, because she’s never steered you wrong before.  You’ve no idea where you’ll end up, and the notion of ceding control leaves you with that mix of half terror, half exhilaration.

But when you submit your story before the squinty eyes of the editor, when it’s picked over by readers and critics, where is the responsibility then?  It’s only your name on the story; the muse has vanished, gone on to her other affairs.  Like the drunk bicyclist trying to explain himself to the constable, you can’t point the finger elsewhere.

When I set out to write about this topic today, my aim was to poke holes in the Bradbury’s metaphor, to state that my writing experiences weren’t like that at all.  Especially the half terror part.  I was going to create my own metaphor for my writing life.  I wanted to capture the godlike act of creating a world, of designing the initial conditions, then winding up the characters and letting them go, interacting and confronting their problems.  All the while, that godlike me would be taking notes, watching these wind-up characters’ every move.  If I did my creative job well, readers would enjoy the result.  If not, well, back to the drawing board to create another world peopled with other wind-up dolls.

But instead of condemning Bradbury’s metaphor, I’ve praised it.  From his grave, he laughs at the irony of it.  I thought I was in charge of this blog, thought I had it all planned out.  Now I see I’ve been drunk and in charge of a bicycle, in the grip of other forces.  Yet the one person responsible, the name at the end is—

                                                    Poseidon’s Scribe

Book Review – Something Wicked This Way Comes

Ray Bradbury died June 5th of this year, a day this universe lost a literary giant.  I just finished reading Something Wicked This Way Comes for the first time.  I have read some other Bradbury works, including Fahrenheit 451, Dandelion Wine, The Illustrated Man, Now and Forever, and The Martian Chronicles.  His short story “The Flying Machine,” in part, inspired my story “The Sea-Wagon of Yantai.”

I listened to the Recorded Books version performed by Paul Hecht, ©1962 by Bradbury, renewed 1997, and ©1999 by Recorded Books.

The novel takes place in a Midwest town in the month of October sometime in the early to mid-1900s.  A traveling carnival comes to the town and strange things happen, including the disappearance or alteration of some townspeople.  Two boys and one of their fathers start to believe the carnival is evil and try to find a way to deal with the problem.

That synopsis sounds inexcusably bland, and doesn’t at all convey the magical experience of reading the book.  Bradbury’s works are always poetic, alliterative, and metaphorical, and this novel is no exception.  You find yourself swept along with the cadence of the words, caught up in whatever web Bradbury chooses to weave, and you’re glad of it.

The work deals with eternal themes of good and evil, as well as old and young.  With the first, he examines the weapons wielded by forces evil and good.  With the second, he explores the absurdity of the old wanting to be young and the young yearning to be old.

No one better expresses that delight, playfulness, curiosity, and sense of wonder of being a young boy in a Midwest town, than Ray Bradbury.  I was once such a boy and can relate.  The details he recalls and sensations he can–with lyrical prose–rekindle, resonate within me.

I’m not sure whether to classify the novel as horror or fantasy.  Perhaps it’s a horror…poem?  In any case, I loved it and give it my highest rating of 5 seahorses, the first work I’ve reviewed to have earned that rating.  Do you disagree with my review?  Leave a negative comment and you may find out “by the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes,” and that something is–

                                                  Poseidon’s Scribe

 

Hook ‘em, So You Can Reel ‘em In

How will you begin your next story?  The beginning, called the ‘hook,’ is important.  These days readers don’t have much time.  Other things like TV, video games, and the Internet compete with your story for their attention.  If your first sentence or paragraph doesn’t grab them, they’re on to doing something else.

Here are some examples of great hooks used in novels as chosen by the editors of American Book Review:

  • Call me Ishmael.  Moby-Dick, Herman Melville 
  • Marley was dead, to begin with.  A Christmas Carol,  Charles Dickens
  • It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.  1984, George Orwell
  • You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
  • Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.  The Trial, Franz Kafka
  • Mother died today.  The Stranger, Albert Camus
  • There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C.S. Lewis
  • He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.  The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • It was a pleasure to burn.  Fahrenheit 451,  Ray Bradbury
  • The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.  The Red Badge of Courage, Stephen Crane

These beginnings work well for several reasons.  They give us an early idea what the story will be about.  They establish the tone of the story, and something about the attitude of the narrator’s voice.

But most of all they seize our attention and compel us to want to read more.  What gives them this quality?  It’s hard to find a common attribute just by looking at them.  They seem to appeal for different reasons.

Writer Darcy Pattison has grouped the different beginnings into categories.  This is helpful since one category might work better for the start of your story than another.  Knowing the category can give you a starting point for developing your hook.

Many of the beginnings in the list start with a sense of the ordinary, and then give the reader something that clashes or is jarring somehow.  We’re left with a puzzle, an oddity, a question that can only be resolved by reading further.  So read on we must.

Those without that twist added to the ordinary seem to possess a different quality.  They settle us in, set a mood, fluff up our pillow, put on some appropriate music.  We’re now comfortably in the story, transported to the author’s world right from the start, and now that we’re there we might as well read on to see what the place is like.

Each of these beginnings without exception is easy to read.  None have rare or difficult words to stumble over.  All have rhythm, and almost poetic brevity.  Not a word is wasted.

How do you write an opening like these?  Heck if I know; these are some of the best ever written.  Ask one of the world’s greatest authors.

With that task added to your to-do list, perhaps we could set our sights a bit lower for now.  How do you write an effective story beginning?  For one thing, it takes time and many trials.  The beginning is the hardest part to write, usually takes the longest, and usually involves the most revisions.  You might decide to skip the hook and come back to it later as the story evolves.  You might like to write a first version of the hook knowing you’ll revisit it over and over.  In any case, be prepared to spend the time and thought to craft it right.

To learn much more about how to write story hooks, read Hooked by Les Edgerton.  What an invaluable resource!

With regard to beginnings, we’ve reached the end.  Remember to check back at this site next week for further ramblings about writing by–

                                                                 Poseidon’s Scribe

The Stories behind the Stories, Part I

In these blog entries I’ve usually refrained from shameless promotion of my own stories, but today will be different.  However, since my purpose in these blogs is to offer help to beginning writers, I’ll couch my blatant self-advertising as instructive, educational matter.

Hundreds of cards and letters and e-mails have been pouring in asking me one question.  Well, maybe dozens.  Okay, maybe it’s just a question I’ve been hoping others would ask me:  “Where do your ideas come from?”  I explored the topic last year, but today I’ll trace the origin of the ideas for each of my published short stories.  Perhaps in reading through these, you’ll see how ideas can occur any time and for any reason; good story ideas will come to you, too!

Target Practice.” I wrote this story in 1999, and I honestly don’t remember what the inspiration was.  Back then I was in the midst of writing a novel, and I took time out to write this story and submit it for publication to a wonderful anthology, Lower than the Angels.  I think I just wanted to see if I could create a truly hopeless situation and figure a way for my protagonist to resolve the problem.

“The Steam Elephant.”  Seven years later, as I mentioned here, I was inspired by the book The Mammoth Book of New Jules Verne Adventures, edited by Mike Ashley and Eric Brown.  It contained short stories written by modern authors as tributes to Verne.  As a Verne enthusiast, I was thrilled by the book, but disappointed to find no stories echoing Verne’s two-part novel The Steam House.  I decided to write my own, and it was published in Steampunk Tales #5.

“The Wind-Sphere Ship.”  I’m not sure why, but at some point I must have been pondering why steamships weren’t invented much earlier.  After all, the power of steam was known to the ancients.  The Greek inventor Heron (or Hero) developed a steam toy in the first century A.D.  This suggested an alternate history story.  Gypsy Shadow Publishing put this story out in e-book form.

“Alexander’s Odyssey.”  I’ve long been fascinated by the history of submarine development.  One tale held that Alexander the Great descended under water in a glass-windowed barrel.  I  wondered how the sea god, Poseidon, would have reacted, and the story wrote itself.   It was first published in the anthology Magic & Mechanica and then later (in a longer version) by itself in e-book form.

“The Sea-Wagon of Yantai.”  I continued my quest to fictionalize, in short-story form, the development of the submarine.  I found tantalizing references to the Chinese having developed a submarine around the year 200 B.C.  However, I couldn’t find any details.  I figured that left me free to write the story as I wished.  My story was also loosely inspired by Ray Bradbury’s marvelous story, “The Flying Machine,” which I’d read in high school.  Eternal Press published my story.

“Seasteadia.”  Knowing of my interest in the sea, a fellow writer in my critique group sent me an article about the concept of seasteading.  I decided to write a series of stories about seasteading’s possible future.  “Seasteadia” is the first, and so far the only published one, and it appeared in the anthology Aurora of the Sun.

There are more, but I’ll save those for next week’s blog entry.  The point is, a writer’s story ideas come from many sources.  Who knows where your next story idea will originate?  After all, your creative mind works differently from that of–

                                                                Poseidon’s Scribe

February 19, 2012Permalink

Prose’s Teacher, Poetry

Can reading or writing poetry improve your prose?  I’ll go with a yes on that.

First, allow me to give you my take on the differences.  Let’s consider Prose and Poetry as siblings, as brother and sister respectively, for they are related, both being offspring of language.

The sister, Poetry, keeps her work brief.  Her words are densely packed, tiny packages brimming with meaning.  She prides herself on juxtaposing words in a way to convey a clear impression without wasting syllables.  For her, only the right words will do, and she takes great pains to find them.  True, her brother Prose can be brief when he wants to, but he is not that way all the time.

To a greater degree than her brother, Poetry is in love with the sound of words.  She rhymes at certain times, and is often tending to play with words’ endings.  Albeit she also allows a lot of alternate alliteration.  Rhythm, too, is her forte.  Poetry is a close friend to Music, to whom Prose is only a casual acquaintance.  This focus on the sound of words themselves, not just their meanings, gives Poetry a majestic sound, a special and important sound.

For these reasons, most poetry should be read slower than most prose, to extract meaning and enjoyment.  Even though it’s shorter in length, poetry can therefore take just as long to read!

Having established the differences, we turn to my main point, whether familiarization with poetry can help a writer of prose.  We’ve all come across authors whose prose reads like poetry, where it’s clear the author loves the sounds and rhythms  and flow of words, where the word choices sweep and lull us along with the story as if we’re listening to a song.  The author that comes to my mind is Ray Bradbury.  Read any of his works and you’ll likely agree he must be a poet in the thin disguise of a prose writer.

You might argue there are plenty of fine prose authors whose works don’t read like poetry, and I concur.  But even these authors might dabble with poetry on occasion.  Perhaps they’ll have one character in their story who speaks in the manner of a poet, or who quotes poets like Shakespeare.  It’s one way to distinguish characters, to give them depth.

Another way poetry could help your prose (perhaps the most extreme way) is by shifting to poetry altogether.  The epic poem form of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey seems to be coming back now and gaining acceptance in the form of verse novels, or novels-in-verse, especially for teen fiction.

At the very least, a familiarity with poetry might influence your prose writing by making you more conscious of word choice, brevity, juxtaposition of unlike words, and the sound of words themselves.  You may find it adds flair to your prose.

I confess to being a part-time poet.  My poems are rather private, for family members on holidays, or people retiring at work.  Those poems are not worthy of submission for publication, but perhaps the experience of writing them has improved my prose; I like to think so.

To quote Gilbert & Sullivan, “Although we live by strife, We’re always sorry to begin it.  For what, we ask, is life, without a touch of Poetry in it?  Hail, Poetry!”

From Poetry’s glass you should imbibe; so say I–

            Poseidon’s Scribe

Pioneers and Giants

For this blog post I’m dividing the great writers into two categories–pioneers and giants.  I define pioneers as those who start a new genre of fiction by themselves, and giants as those who come along later and take an existing genre to new heights and greater popularity.

Here is a table listing a few literary genres and some of the pioneers and giants in each one:

Genre

Pioneers

Giants

Adventure Heliodorus, Homer Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexandre Dumas, Ian Fleming, H. Rider Haggard, Victor Hugo, Emilio Salgari, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne
Comedy Aristophanes Douglas Adams, Joseph Heller, William Shakespeare, R. L. Stine, Kurt Vonnegut
Crime Steen Steensen Blicher, Edgar Allan Poe Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie
Fantasy Homer Marion Zimmer Bradley, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Stephen King, C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien
Historical Chariton of Aphrodisias Pearl S. Buck, Ken Follett, Robert Graves, Eleanor Hibbert, James Michener, Baroness Emma Orczy, Ryotaro Shiba, Leo Tolstoy
Horror William Beckford, Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Lewis Stephen King, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, R. L. Stine, Mary Shelley, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde
Mystery E.T.A. Hoffmann, Edgar Allan Poe Jiro Akagawa, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Erle Stanley Gardner, Dashiell Hammett, Kyotaro Nishimura, Edward Stratemeyer
Philosophical St. Augustine Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Soren Kierkegaard, Stanislaw Lem, C.S. Lewis, Jean Paul Sartre, Ayn Rand, Voltaire
Political Plato Edward Bellamy, Benjamin Disraeli, Franz Kafka, Sinclair Lewis, Thomas More, George Orwell, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Gore Vidal
Romance Chrétien de Troyes, Sir Thomas Malory, Ann Radcliffe Barbara Cartland, Jackie Collins, Catherine Cookson, Janet Dailey, Eleanor Hibbert, Debbie Macomber, Stephenie Meyer, Nora Roberts, Denise Robins, Danielle Steel, Corín Tellado,
Satire Aristophanes Ambrose Bierce, Anthony Burgess, Candide, Joseph Heller, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut
Science fiction Jules Verne Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, H. G. Wells
Steampunk James Blaylock,  K. W. Jeter, Tim Powers Paul Di Filippo, William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
Thriller Homer, John Buchan Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, Ian Fleming, Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth, John Grisham, Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean
Urban Robert Beck TN Baker, Kole Black, De’Nesha Diamond, K’wan Foye, J.Gail, Erick Gray, Shannon Holmes, Pamela M. Johnson, Solomon Jones, Mallori McNeal, Miasha, Meesha Mink, Jeff Rivera, Big Rob Ruiz, Sister Souljah, Vikki Stringer, Nikki Turner, Anthony Whyte

You can quibble with the names in the table and that’s fine; I don’t pretend that it’s 100% accurate or complete.  But as I look through the table a couple of things are apparent:

  • There are a lot of genres, and probably more for you to invent.  (I didn’t list all genres, or very many subgenres.)  There will be more pioneers.
  • Just because a genre is old (the pioneer long dead) doesn’t mean new, modern giants can’t emerge.  It’s never too late to be a giant.

In general, the pioneer lays down some of the rules for the genre and takes the first tentative steps within its boundaries.  The pioneer faces the difficulty of convincing a skeptical publisher to take a risk on a book that doesn’t fit in any known category.

But it is the giants who really explore the full extent of the genre and help to popularize it for more readers.

Perhaps one day you’ll be looked upon as a great author.  Which type will you be–a pioneer or a giant?  There’s glory in both.  Which would you rather be?  Let me know by clicking “Leave a comment.”  Hoping to become one or the other, I’m–

                                                              Poseidon’s Scribe

September 18, 2011Permalink

Reading Your Way to Better Writing

What book should you read that will make you a published author?  Surely someone has written down all the little secrets in a handy volume, right?  I mean, that’s how I learned to do some household plumbing.

In earlier blog posts I’ve stated that the how-to books about writing do have some value.  You can read them to learn or re-learn a few tidbits, but do not expect that reading a book will make you a great writer.  I’ve stated that I put more stock in critique groups.

Even so, I have read a few books intended to help writers.  The following list of books I’ve read is in no particular order.  I recommend them all, but read them for the occasional “golden nugget,” not because they will make you famous.

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • How I Write:  Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich
  • Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block
  • The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them) by Jack M. Bickham
  • Your Mythic Journey:  Finding Meaning in Your Life Through Writing and Storytelling by Sam Keen and Anne Valley-Fox
  • Manuscript Submission by Scott Edelstein
  • The No-Experience Necessary Writer’s Course by Scott Edelstein
  • Story Starters by Lou Willett Stanek
  • The Elements of Storytelling:  How to Write Compelling Fiction by Peter Rubie
  • Creative Writing: Forms and Techniques by Lavonne Mueller and Jerry D. Reynolds
  • The Craft of Writing Science Fiction That Sells by Ben Bova
  • Cosmic Critiques: How and Why Ten Science Fiction Stories Work by Isaac Asimov and Martin Greenberg

I will single out three more for special mention.  Zen in the Art of Writing:  Releasing the Creative Genius Within You by Ray Bradbury is one I read many years ago, but the essence of it still rings in my mind.  Bradbury conveys the passion for writing, how it grabs you and carries you along on a crazy ride.  You can enjoy your writing pastime, but you can’t control it.  A good book.

Consider reading Hooked:  Grab Readers at Page One by Les Edgerton.  That book will help you begin your stories the right way.  Edgerton’s book is new, with fresh insights about what works in modern stories and what the editors of today are looking for.

 

Lastly, and best of all, you must, must, must have The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.  That’s the formal book title, but everyone knows it as “Strunk and White.”  First published in 1918, this very short book will remind you to keep your writing succinct and to always make things easy for your reader.  You’ll want to re-read this one every few years.

If you’ve read a book on writing that you recommend, let me know.  For all I know, maybe someone has written a book with no-fail, sure-fire advice for making its readers into great writers.  Such a book, if it exists, has not yet been read by–

Poseidon’s Scribe

A Stroll through My Mental Library

Why would you read a blog post containing a list of writers who influenced me?  My aim is to provoke you to think about (perhaps even write down) the list of those who inspired you.  It’s a useful exercise.  Perhaps the most important part of the exercise is to describe those writers as well—what they mean to you.

Come on, walk along beside me now through the library of my mind.  The shelves have all the books I ever read.  My apologies for its small size; a busy life interferes with reading, unfortunately.  But I’m trying to read more.  For the purposes of today’s tour the books have been arranged by author, and we’ll be viewing busts of the more prominent ones.  Engraved on the pedestal of each bust are the author’s name and a few words describing his or her works.

Ah, I see you noticed the 30-foot high bronze statue just within the entrance.  Kind of hard to miss.  Yes, that’s Jules Verne.  I’ve read most of his works that have been translated into English.  His Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is the only book I ever re-read, and I do that every couple of years.  That book inspired me both to join the submarine service and to major in naval architecture in college.  To me, he represents scientific accuracy, exotic voyages, high drama and adventure, and a glimpse of a time when technology seemed on the verge of making everything possible for the first time in human history.

Over here is the bust of Isaac Asimov.  I’ve read only a fraction of his published work but it’s still a lot, both fiction and non-fiction.  The words engraved beneath his name are scientific accuracy, easy-to-read writing style, clever ideas, and love of wordplay.

Walking along, we’ve come to Arthur C. Clarke.  To me, he too symbolizes scientific accuracy, but also an optimistic view of mankind’s future, and various ways we could deal with aliens of far greater and different intelligences.

That bust there depicts Robert Heinlein.  Hard-edged style, a strict morality, a libertarian viewpoint, and success through struggle are the hallmarks of his writing, to me.

Watch your step; this area is not well lit.  Here, take my flashlight.  That bust you just bumped into is Ray Bradbury.  He has the most poetic prose of any author here—a flowing style that seduces you into his stories with the sheer magic and power of the words.  Then he often slaps you hard with some dark and twisted surprise.

And that one over there is Ayn Rand.  She’s the only woman on the tour; I wish there were more.  Her writing is characterized by emotional power, uncompromising philosophy, and a deep belief in human freedom coupled with strict ideas about how to live one’s life.

We’ve come to the bust of Larry Niven.  Amazing ideas, compelling characters, and the most well-thought-out aliens of any author in the library.

Here we are in the Children’s section—quite dusty, I know.  This next bust looks a little strange, with no discernable features.   Maybe you don’t recognize the name, Victor Appleton II. It’s a pseudonym used by many authors.  I grew up reading the Tom Swift, Jr. series written by the various “Mr. Appletons.”  With fondness I recall the high adventure, the marvelous inventions, and the use of science to solve problems.

One more and I think we’ll wrap up the tour.  Clive Cussler’s bust bears the following descriptions on beneath the name on its pedestal—engaging adventures set at sea, a writer with an easy-reading style that really puts his characters through hell.

That’s enough for this trip.  Perhaps we’ll continue the tour in a future blog post and examine busts of authors we missed.  I should mention you won’t necessarily see the influences of all of these writers in my own stories.  Also, I don’t necessarily agree with the viewpoints of all of them—I just enjoy reading their books.

Thanks for stopping by for a tour today.  Hope you enjoyed strolling through the mind of–

Poseidon’s Scribe