Sentences add up

It’s funny how the little algorithms work. I had nothing to write for Wednesday’s blog, so I wrote just one sentence to keep my daily blogging streak alive, titled it “This is a sentence,” and went to bed.

It appeared dutifully Wednesday morning, and down at the bottom the algorithm, as usual, offered three “Related” posts: “Write the next sentence,” “Letters into words into sentences,” and “W.B.’s Book Report: Several Short Sentences About Writing.” All three of them had been more well-received than average, and all three were about writing more than one sentence and if — you’re stuck with nothing to say — how to write that next sentence.

Oh, I had great excuses. I had awakened at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday, I had put in my first 10-hour day at the day job in several weeks, I was dead on my feet (Technically, I was sitting, so I was dead on my tail) — I barely remember writing the one sentence.

That’s not really the point.

The point is that if you aspire to be a writer, if you present yourself as a writer, there is a certain truism to which you need to adhere. It’s easy to remember, just two words.

Writers write.

Now, I forgive myself for writing just the one sentence. I really was exhausted. I had written about 4,000 day-job words and even dashed off 200-300 Jeep Thompson words during the course of Tuesday, and I had helped to assemble more than 50 pages of newspaper to send to the printer. The blog was not the highest priority of the day.

Still, writers write, and I have set the blog as a daily priority. I made the commitment long enough ago to measure in years.

I forgive myself, but I don’t intend to do that again. Oh, all things come to an end, and one day so will my daily blog streak, but I plan never again to write one sentence and call it a blog post.

Unless its a really, really good sentence.

– – –

P.S. It has come to my attention that some of you have not yet obtained your free copy of the ebook Jeep Thompson & the Lost Prince of Venus: Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet. This is the looonng-awaited opening salvo in an epic adventure of time, space, and other worlds. Jeep Thompson and her vampire friend, Blaine, live in a world not unlike our own — but not exactly ours; our world doesn’t have vampires, don’t you know — and they are plunged into an intrigue that starts with an odd vehicle under a tarp in her garage. Did I mention it’s free? You have nothing to lose and everything to gain — and how often do you get to read a novella with a 15-word title? Go on, click this link and start reading the adventures of Jeep Thompson.

Watch what you say

“In space, no one can hear you scream.”

“You can’t say that.”

“I just did.”

“But it’s a trademark; you can’t say that.”

“I’m not trying to promote my scary new movie about a space monster.”

“Doesn’t matter; it’s copyrighted.”


“You’ll think differently when you hear from their lawyers.”

“Oh, come on. It’s just a fact: There’s no air in space, so there’s nothing to carry sound, so if you managed to live long enough to scream, no one could hear you.”

“Well you can say it that way, but the way you said it first is protected by copyright.”

“I wasn’t saying it to sell anything. The copyright is for a movie tagline. If anything, when I say it, people will think, ‘I remember that movie, it was good. I should see it again.’ It’s free advertising for them.”

“I don’t know. I’m still worried you could get sued.”

“You know, of all the things I’ve learned over the years, one of the truest is that most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

“Oh my gaw. You are crazy. Do you want to have lawyers all over you?”


“That’s a Tom Petty song!”

“What is?”

“‘Most things I worry about never happen anyway’! It’s in a song!”

“So what?”

“So you can’t say that! It violates the copyright!”

“That’s so stupid. But I guess what a fool believes, he sees.”


Bring Me Back

“Bring me back,” he cried in his sleep. “Bring me back.”

“Floyd, wake up,” said his groggy wife. “You’re talking in your sleep.”

“Oh. What? Yeah,” Floyd said, as he responded to her entreaty and woke up. “Wow, that was so real.”

“No, it wasn’t,” she said. “I saw. You were right here all along.”

“You know what I mean, Jen. I was walking down the street in some city —”

“Sounds dark.”

“No, it was a bright sunny day. And this guy comes up, grabs my arm, and says, ‘Come with me,’ and I says, ‘I don’t want to come with you, I got things to do,’ and he just hangs on and says, ‘Come with me.’”

“Where’d he take you?”

Continue reading “Bring Me Back”

Somewhere you feel free

Wildflowers by Tom Petty is my go-to album when I don’t know what I want to listen to. It’s like comfort food for the ears and heart.

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free

The album has sentimental meaning for me, who never stopped wanting to buy an album in vinyl. The late 1980s and early ’90s were horrifying for me as a music lover, because more and more music was only available on cassette or CD. One day in early 1995, I walked into a music store and was shocked and delighted to discover a small area devoted to new vinyl. Among the records for which I spent $100 that day was Wildflowers.

I had several moments of delight while listening to that album for the first time. One is simply the title song of Wildflowers, which opens the album. It’s just a sweet and perfectly delivered little folk song that I have listened to, over and over, for more than 20 years now. Then there was the moment I was listening to “To Find A Friend” when I had the thought, “If the Beatles were still together, I bet they would be doing songs like this one,” only to glance at the credits and discover that Ringo Starr was playing drums on the track. Then there was the brilliant moment of wisdom tucked into “Crawling Back to You,” when he sings, “Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

Two years later I had a specific desire to find a Tom Petty album, perhaps a wish that I could re-experience the fun of listening to Wildflowers. I went into my now-familiar record store but, alas, Petty had no new material. I did see that Johnny Cash had issued a followup to his now-legendary American Recordings album, called Unchained, and I thought what the heck, let’s check it out. I was really liking what I heard and checked the credits, where to my surprise and delight I found out I had purchased a Tom Petty album after all, as he and the Heartbreakers were essentially Johnny Cash’s backing band on the project.

To me these 15 songs represent Tom Petty’s finest hour. I still love listening to this album.

Jeep is here

As you might have guessed by the last five days, it’s time to start telling the story of Jeep Thompson and the Lost Prince of Venus. I am giving away the first third of the novel, Episode 1: Journey to the Second Planet, to people who have subscribed to my author’s newsletter, the Astor City Beacon. (It’s named after the online newspaper in Myke Phoenix’s hometown.)

Fair warning, it ends with a cliffhanger. What else do you expect from something I just described as “the first third of the novel”? But Episode 2 is coming in a few weeks, and Episode 3 a few weeks after that  — my newsletter subscribers will be the first to know exactly when. 

After that the completed novel will be available as an ebook, paperback, hardcover and audiobook. This is my first completely new fiction project in almost a decade, so I may as well go all-out.

Jeep Thompson is the daughter of two astrophysicists who led a team that developed The Traveler, a vehicle loosely based on a 1965 Buick Riviera that travels through time, space, and dimensions. Can she figure out how it works in time to save the worlds?

You may have read the first five chapters here, and now pick up the tale as Jeep and Blaine make a narrow escape in the Traveler and run to Venus — no Venus they ever knew — where they meet, well, you’ll see who they meet.

You’re a few clicks away from having the story — starting with this click.

Chapter 5 – The Traveler

Image generated by Midjourney

Jeep and Blaine took the dusty old tarp off, which was more of a task than it sounds. The tarp was tied in the corners — more like lashed — and they needed to find a pair of scissors, then a sharp knife, before they could cut through the ropes that held the plastic covering to the vehicle.

Once they cleared that off, the gleaming black vehicle did resemble something off the highway from a long time ago.

“It really does kind of look like a 1965 Buick Riviera,” Blaine said.

“I didn’t know you knew anything about old cars,” Jeep said.

Blaine smiled his droll smile. “I Googled it.”

Continue reading “Chapter 5 – The Traveler”

Chapter 4 – The mysterious colleague

Jeep’s eyes widened, and even Blaine looked a little taken aback, and Jeep leaned forward and said in a loud whisper, “Oh my gosh, did you help build The Traveler?!”

Now it was the older woman’s turn to widen her eyes, but she quickly narrowed them back to normal, looked both ways and over her shoulder, and said in a low voice, “Your mother should never have told you about that.”

“Well,” Blaine said drolly, because everything Blaine said came out droll, “the thing is sitting under a tarp in Jeep’s garage, so it’s not like some big classified secret.”

“It’s in your garage? Under a tarp? I was told top people were still working on it at an undisclosed location,” Ms. Jacobus said, and then let out a little laugh. “Well, Bev is ‘top people’ if anyone is.”

“But she hasn’t touched it in years,” Jeep said.

“No,” the woman said, and seemed to be looking at something 1,000 miles away, “she wouldn’t, not after losing Tom like that.”

“Like what? I think she was going to tell me when she had the stroke,” the younger woman said urgently. “What happened to my father?”

Continue reading “Chapter 4 – The mysterious colleague”