Monday, September 22, 2014

IWW Members' Publishing Successes

The following Internet Writing Workshop members saw publishing success this week:

Barbara C. Johnson

Part 26 of a 41-part serial novel is up at the Political Truth Serum blog.

Mira Desai

Four yahoos I’d like to share:

A poem is up at Linden Avenue Literary Journal.

Two translated poems in Mixitini Matrix, a journal of creative collaboration. See here and here.

A short story is also published at Big Pulp (Issue 2).

Congratulations to Barbara and Mira!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Notes For September 19th, 2014

This Day In Writing History

On September 19th, 2000, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the classic, Pulitzer Prize winning novel by the famous American writer Michael Chabon, was published.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay opens in 1939. Josef "Joe" Kavalier, a 19-year-old Jewish Czech refugee, arrives in New York City to live with his seventeen year old cousin, Sammy Klayman.

Joe is a talented artist, Sammy an aspiring writer. Both have an interest in magic and connections to the legendary magician Harry Houdini, whose real name was Ehrich Weiss. Sammy's father used to be a vaudeville strongman called the Mighty Molecule.

When Joe gets a job as an illustrator for a novelty company, the job takes him in a different direction: the company wants to get into the comic book business after the huge success of Superman ushered in the golden age of comics.

Joe and Sammy, who has taken the pen name Sammy Clay, form a team where Sammy writes adventure stories and Joe illustrates them. The pair creates an antifascist superhero called The Escapist, and the company they work for reluctantly agrees to publish their comics.

The Escapist becomes a hit, but the cousins' contract only pays them a minimal royalty. They are slow to realize that they're being screwed because they're both caught up in personal problems.

While Joe is desperate to get his family out of Nazi-occupied Prague, Sammy grapples with his sexual identity, struggling to come to terms with the fact that he might be gay. Meanwhile, Joe falls in love with a bohemian artist named Rosa Saks.

Distraught over his failure to save his family from the Nazis, Joe runs off to join the Navy. Instead of fighting the Nazis, he is stationed at a remote naval base in Antarctica. He doesn't know that he left Rosa pregnant with his child.

After the war ends, Joe is discharged from the Navy and returns to New York, but is unable to face Rosa and Sammy, so he hides out in the Empire State Building. Meanwhile, Sammy married Rosa to save her from scandal.

When Sammy's not helping Rosa raise their son Tommy, he's involved in a gay affair with actor Tracy Bacon, who plays his superhero, The Escapist, on the radio. The two men go to a dinner party with their gay friends and other couples, and the party is raided.

Local police and two off-duty FBI agents round up everyone except for Sammy and another man who managed to hide under the table. The FBI agents ultimately catch them and offer them their freedom in exchange for sexual favors.

After that close call, Sammy concentrates on helping Rosa raise Tommy and trying to appear as a traditional family, but they can't hide their secrets from the precocious boy who loves them both.

Tommy is reunited with his long lost father Joe at the Empire State Building and takes magic lessons from him. The boy determines to reunite the legendary team of Kavalier & Clay, and he does.

Happy to see each other again, the cousins decide to make their comeback in comics. Joe moves in with Sammy, Rosa, and Tommy, and just when it seems like their lives are finally getting back on track, Sammy is publicly outed - on television.

That's just a threadbare outline of this epic novel, which won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The novel was supposed to be adapted as a feature film, but the project keeps slipping through the Hollywood cracks.

A screenplay was completed in 2002 and an excerpt from it was published in Entertainment Weekly, but the film never got past the pre-production stage. Two years later, Michael Chabon pronounced the project dead.

Then, in 2005, director Stephen Daldry announced that he was going to make the film. With Tobey Maguire and Jamie Bell cast as Sammy and Joe, and Natalie Portman as Rosa, it seemed a done deal.

This time, the film didn't even get to pre-production. In April of 2007, Chabon said that the project "just completely went south for studio-politics kinds of reasons that I'm not privy to... right now, as far as I know, there's not a lot going on."

In an interview conducted in December of 2011, Stephen Daldry stated that he hadn't given up on adapting The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and was looking to adapt the novel as a TV miniseries, preferably for HBO.

Quote Of The Day

"You need three things to become a successful novelist: talent, luck and discipline. Discipline is the one element of those three things that you can control, and so that is the one that you have to focus on controlling, and you just have to hope and trust in the other two." - Michael Chabon

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Michael Chabon discussing his classic novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay at the Dominican University of California in 2010. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Notes For September 18th, 2014

This Day In Writing History

On September 18th, 1987, Hellraiser, a feature film adaptation of the classic horror novella The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, was released to theaters.

The movie was written and directed by Clive Barker himself - the first time that the popular English horror novelist ventured into filmmaking. It was not, however, the first time that Barker's writings were adapted for the screen.

His short stories Transmutations and Rawhead Rex were adapted as feature films in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Barker hated both movies, which is why he decided to write and direct the next film adaptation himself.

Hellraiser opens with Frank (Sean Chapman), a hedonistic adventurer always in search of new sexual thrills, buying a mysterious antique Chinese puzzle box in an unnamed third world country.

Back home in England, Frank solves the puzzle and opens the box. Chains with small hooks on them fly out of the box and tear into Frank's flesh, then tear him apart as three demonic beings called Cenobites cross over from their hellish dimension to ours.

The Cenobites examine Frank's remains, after which, the leader, Pinhead, (Doug Bradley) picks up the puzzle box and closes it. The room returns to normal. Later, Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into Frank's house, along with his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins).

They don't know what happened to Frank - they think he's off on another one of his adventures. When Larry enters the upstairs room where Frank was killed, he cuts his hand and some of his blood drips onto the floor - and mysteriously disappears into the floorboards.

This allows Frank's tortured soul to partially regenerate his body. He appears to Julia, with whom he once had an affair, and convinces her to help him complete the regeneration of his body so he can escape from the Cenobites, breaking the deal he made with them.

Soon, Julia is luring men up to the attic on the pretense of sex, where Frank drains them of their blood, which he uses to regenerate his body. He tells Julia about the Chinese puzzle box, and how it allows the Cenobites to cross over from their world to ours.

Soon, Frank, Julia, and Frank's teenage niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) all run afoul of the demonic Cenobites, who believe that the extremes of pleasure and pain are inseparable - and are more than happy to introduce the trio to the pleasures of pain.

When Hellraiser was completed, in order to avoid an X-rating, the MPAA ratings panel required Clive Barker to trim some of the gore and tone down the overall sadomasochistic theme of the movie.

Some of the cuts would later be restored without resulting in the loss of the film's R rating. The movie's first working title was Sadomasochists From Beyond The Grave.

Hellraiser became a huge box office hit, grossing twenty times its budget. Rightfully considered one of the great cult classic horror films, it inspired numerous sequels and made English actor Doug Bradley, who plays Pinhead, a cult film icon.

Clive Barker would write and direct more film adaptations of his works, including Nightbreed (1990) and Lord of Illusions (1995).

In 2011, Barker was supposed to write and direct a remake of Hellraiser for Dimension Films, which owned the film rights to the Hellraiser franchise. Unfortunately, the project fell through.

When Dimension Films realized that their contract with Clive Barker stipulated that they would lose the rights to the Hellraiser franchise if they didn't produce the movie, they rushed a film into production on a tiny budget of $300,000.

Barker wanted nothing to do with the film, Hellraiser: Revelations, a sequel to Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005). After the advertising claimed it was "from the mind of Clive Barker," the angry writer referred to it as "no child of mine" in a profanity laced tweet.

Hellraiser: Revelations was the first film to not star Doug Bradley as the iconic Pinhead. Bradley tweeted that he backed out because the script read like an unrevised first draft (it was, and there would be no revisions) and he was told that his salary would be about, in his words, "the price of a fridge."

Stephan Smith Collins was cast as Pinhead in Hellraiser: Revelations, which is considered by many to be the worst film in the popular series.

Quote Of The Day

"My imagination is my polestar; I steer by that." - Clive Barker

Vanguard Video

Today's video features the original theatrical trailer for Hellraiser. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Notes For September 17th, 2014

This Day In Writing History

On September 17th, 1935, the legendary American writer Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado. His parents, who were dairy farmers, moved the family to Springfield, Oregon, when he was eleven. Kesey attended Springfield High School, where he excelled at academics and became a champion wrestler.

In 1956, while attending the University of Oregon in Eugene, (where he also won wrestling championships) Kesey married his high school sweetheart, Norma "Faye" Haxby, whom he had first met in seventh grade. She would bear him three children.

A year after they married, Kesey received a degree in speech and communication from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism. In 1958, he was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship grant to enroll in the creative writing program at Stanford University, which he did.

During his time at Stanford, Kesey volunteered to participate in Project MKULTRA at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hopital. Funded by the CIA, the project was a study of the effects of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline on people.

Kesey would later write many accounts of his experiences with psychoactive drugs, both during Project MKULTRA and in private experimentation. His role as a guinea pig for the government project and his interaction with the patients at the veterans' hospital would serve as the inspiration for his classic debut novel.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, published in 1962, was narrated by a mental patient - a docile half-Indian giant known as "Chief" Bromden, who pretends to be a deaf-mute. Chief tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy, an amiable transferee from a prison work farm.

Convicted on a battery charge, McMurphy feigns insanity in order to serve out the remainder of his sentence in a mental hospital. With no real medical authority in charge, the ward is run by "the Big Nurse," Nurse Ratched, a sadistic tyrant who rules her patients with an iron fist - and three strong young orderlies.

McMurphy constantly antagonizes Nurse Ratched with his rebellious attitude and disruptive behavior, which includes running poker games, making comments about her figure, and inciting his fellow patients to exercise their rights by voting to watch the World Series on TV.

McMurphy inspires Chief to open up to him and the big Indian reveals that he can hear and talk. The two men team up to challenge Nurse Ratched's authority and are later forced to endure electroshock therapy.

The horrific treatments do nothing to temper McMurphy's rebellious nature, as he smuggles in liquor and prostitutes for his fellow patients. After Nurse Ratched's mental cruelty provokes a young patient to commit suicide, McMurphy attacks her and tries to strangle her. He is sent to the Disturbed Ward.

Nurse Ratched recovers from her injuries but loses her voice - her most effective weapon for keeping the patients in line. McMurphy is lobotomized and left in a vegetative state, a condition that will surely frighten and demoralize the patients.

Not wanting his friend to serve as an horrifying example of what happens when you challenge authority, Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow so he can die with dignity, thus robbing Nurse Ratched of her victory. Then he escapes from the hospital and returns to his tribal land.

Time magazine would include One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in its list of the 100 Best English Language Novels From 1925 To 2005. It was adapted as a Broadway play by Dale Wasserman in 1963 and as an acclaimed feature film in 1975.

Directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy, Will Sampson as Chief, and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, the movie swept the Oscars, winning Academy Awards for Best Actor, (Nicholson) Best Actress, (Fletcher) Best Director (Forman), Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ken Kesey's second novel, Sometimes A Great Notion, published in 1964, has been compared to William Faulkner's novel, Absalom, Absalom! Set in the fictional Pacific Northwest logging town of Wakonda, Oregon, the novel tells the story of the Stampers.

The Stampers are an irascible family that owns and operates a logging company. After the invention and introduction of the chainsaw to the logging industry, the union loggers in Wakonda go on strike, demanding the same pay for shorter working hours due to a decreasing need for labor.

Since the Stamper family's logging company is non-union, they decide to keep working and supply the local mill with all the lumber that the union workers would have supplied, had they not gone out on strike.

The novel explores the details and ramifications of this fateful decision, no doubt the result of half-crazed old patriarch Henry Stamper's philosophy of "never give a inch," which has defined the Stamper family and its relationship with the town.

While more steeped in realism than Kesey's first novel, Sometimes A Great Notion is also more experimental, with alternating first-person narratives. A masterpiece of Northwestern American literature, it was adapted as an acclaimed feature film in 1970, directed by Paul Newman, who also starred as Henry Stamper.

Following the publication of Sometimes A Great Notion in 1964, Ken Kesey had to go to New York City for a promotional appearance. So, he planned a cross country road trip with some friends, including Beat icon Neal Cassady and legendary poet Allen Ginsberg.

Also along for the ride were counterculture icon Wavy Gravy, Stewart Brand, Paul Krassner, and others. Calling themselves the Merry Pranksters, they drove to New York in an old school bus painted with psychedelic colors that they nicknamed Furthur.

When he returned to California, Kesey gave a series of famous psychedelic parties he called Acid Tests. Held in venues decorated with fluorescent paint, the Acid Tests featured light shows, music, and plenty of LSD.

The main house band for these events was a then little known jam band called The Grateful Dead. Tom Wolfe would write about the Acid Tests in his 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, so called because the LSD would be dispensed in sugar cubes added to cups of Kool-Aid.

In 1965, after being arrested for possession of marijuana, Kesey faked his own death to trick the police, then fled to Mexico. When he came back to the United States eight months later, he was caught and sentenced to five months at the San Mateo County Jail.

After serving his time, Kesey moved back to his family farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, where he stayed for the rest of his life and continued to write. He published three more novels, Caverns (1989), Sailor Song (1992), and Last Go Round (1994). He also published a short story collection, Demon Box (1986), and two collections of essays.

Ken Kesey's last major work was an essay published in Rolling Stone magazine, where he called for peace following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. He died of complications from liver cancer surgery in November of 2001 at the age of 66.

Quote Of The Day

"Listen, wait, and be patient. Every shaman knows you have to deal with the fire that's in your audience's eye." - Ken Kesey

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Ken Kesey speaking at the University of Virginia. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Notes For September 16th, 2014

This Day In Writing History

On September 16th, 1919, the famous Canadian writer and educator Dr. Laurence J. Peter was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He later emigrated to the United States.

In 1941, at the age of 22, Laurence J. Peter began a career as a teacher. In 1963, he received a doctorate in education from Washington State University. The following year, he moved to California.

There, he became an Associate Professor of Education, the Director of the Evelyn Frieden Centre for Prescriptive Teaching, and later, Coordinator of Programs for Emotionally Disturbed Children at the University of California.

In 1968, four years after he'd arrived in California, Peter wrote and published a book that made him famous. The Peter Principle was a masterpiece of shrewd satire and social science, examining the flaws of hierarchical organizations such as corporations.

The "Peter Principle" itself stated the following:

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence ... in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties ... work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.

Peter provides examples of how employees who are not qualified to manage are promoted to middle management because of the skills they showed in performing their previous jobs - skills that usually don't qualify them to be managers. Thus, the middle manager has reached his highest level of competence, and further promotion simply raises him to incompetence.

In addition to his famous principle, Peter also coined the term
hierarchiology - the study of hierarchies and the principles of hierarchical systems in human society. He described it this way:

Having formulated the Principle, I discovered that I had inadvertently founded a new science, hierarchiology, the study of hierarchies. The term hierarchy was originally used to describe the system of church government by priests graded into ranks.

The contemporary meaning includes any organization whose members or employees are arranged in order of rank, grade or class. Hierarchiology, although a relatively recent discipline, appears to have great applicability to the fields of public and private administration.

Peter's book has proven to be even more influential these days than when it was originally published. It inspired the work of cartoonist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, who titled one of his own books The Dilbert Principle.

Peter would follow
The Peter Principle with more works, including The Peter Pyramid or Will We Ever Get The Point?, Why Things Go Wrong, The Peter Plan, and The Peter Prescription.

In his final years, up until his death, Peter became involved with and helped to manage the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Humboldt County, California.

The unique annual event is a race of sculptures that double as human powered, amphibious, all-terrain vehicles that can run on land or water.

Called "the triathlon of the art world," the event is a three day cross country race where the sculpture vehicles must cross sand, mud, pavement, a bay, a river, and some steep hills.

While Humboldt County hosts the World Championship race, other Kinetic Sculpture Races take place throughout the United States and around the world.

Laurence J. Peter died in 1990 from complications following a stroke. He was 70 years old.

Quote Of The Day

"Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object." - Laurence J. Peter

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a look at how the Peter Principle applies to stock traders. Enjoy!

Monday, September 15, 2014

IWW Members' Publishing Successes

Internet Writing Workshop members continue to find publishing success in all venues. Congratulations to this week's crew!



William Bartlett

My September column is up at in the Word from Dad feature. This month, it's entitled 'Please and Thank You' and it's also available in print in KC Parent magazine.

Behlor Santi

My story "What NOT To Tell Your Lover," is up at Eunoia Review. I believe that it was workshopped on FICTION. Enjoy, but it's NSFW.

My flash "Tree Branches" is up at A New Ulster (see pages 52-54). Thanks to everybody on FICTION who helped me make this publication possible.

Theresa A. Cancro

1) One haiku appears in A Hundred Gourds, Issue 3:4 (September 2014).

2) Two of my poems --"Sugarscape" and "Meditation for St. Genevieve" -- are up at Leaves of Ink for September 8th and September 13th.

Bob Sanchez

My review of Dear Leader is up at Internet Review of Books.

A fascinating look at North Korea.

Warren Richardson

For many of you who critiqued this work, my first novel, Dancing on a Tightrope, is now live on Amazon and other platforms. Thanks to everyone in the workshop who had a hand in improving the product.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Notes For September 12th, 2014

This Day In Writing History

On September 12th, 1846, the legendary English poets Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning eloped. They were forced to elope because Barrett's father disliked Browning and believed him to be a good-for-nothing looking to marry her for her money.

Elizabeth Barrett was born to a wealthy, aristocratic English family. The Barretts lived in a lavish 20-room mansion near Durham, England. A sickly child with weak lungs, Elizabeth was in chronically poor health and spent most of her time in her room.

When her beloved brother died in 1840, Elizabeth became even more of a recluse, but maintained a connection to the outside world via her extensive correspondence. She also took up writing poetry.

Elizabeth Barrett's first poetry collection, The Seraphim and Other Poems, was published in 1838. Her second collection, Poems by Elizabeth Barrett, appeared in 1844.

In addition to being a respected poet, Barrett also established herself as a literary critic. When most other critics trashed Dramatic Lyrics (1842), a poetry collection by an up and coming poet named Robert Browning, Barrett publicly defended it in a glowing review.

Touched by Elizabeth's praise, Robert Browning wrote to thank her. In his letter, he also asked to meet her in person. The reclusive Elizabeth Barrett turned him down at first, but he kept writing and begging to meet her. She finally relented.

When Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett met, it was love at first sight. They courted and determined to marry, but her father denied her permission. Browning came from a working class family and didn't have much money, so Elizabeth's father assumed he was after hers.

There was another reason that Elizabeth's father forbade her and his other children from ever marrying, and it had to do with the lineage of the Barretts, a wealthy, aristocratic family that came from a long line of plantation owners.

Elizabeth Barrett's grandfather, who owned sugar plantations and other businesses in the West Indies, was known for his humane treatment of his slaves. He was also known to take slave women as his mistresses.

Her father, Edward Barrett, believed that his father may have adopted the light skinned babies of his slave mistresses, and that he may have been one of them. Politically conservative and a virulent racist, Edward was repulsed by the idea that Negro blood may be running through his family's veins.

All of his children were white, but he feared that they might one day produce dark skinned offspring. That's the real reason he forbade them all from marrying under the threat of being disowned and disinherited.

The fiercely liberal Elizabeth Barrett didn't share her father's racism, and she wasn't about to let his ignorance and intolerance stand in the way of her marrying her true love.

So, on September 12th, 1846, a day when she was left home alone, she sneaked off to meet Robert Browning at St. Marylebone Parish Church. The couple was married, and Elizabeth kept it a secret, returning home for a week before fleeing with her husband.

For marrying without his permission, Elizabeth's father angrily disowned and disinherited her, but she still had her own money, which she'd earned from her writings. Her surviving brothers cut all ties with her.

The Brownings settled in Italy, where they lived for fifteen years and remained happily married. In 1849, after suffering four miscarriages, they had their first and only child, a son whom they nicknamed Pen. They continued their writing careers and published more classic poetry collections.

Although Robert Browning's works were overshadowed by his wife's at first - critics snidely referred to him as "Mrs. Browning's husband" - later, he began to receive the recognition he deserved.

Sadly, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning's great love affair would come to an end. Though she had regained her health at the time she gave birth to her son, nearly ten years later, her lungs grew weak again and began to fail.

In 1860, Elizabeth Barrett Browning published her last great poetry collection, Poems before Congress, a political work which resulted in British conservative magazines labeling her a fanatic. She had sided with Italy during the Second Italian War of Independence - and against England.

A year later, she died in her husband's arms at the age of 55. Robert Browning and his son would return to England after her death. Scholars speculate that her death was caused by both her chronic pulmonary issues and the opiates she used to relieve the pain.

Quote Of The Day

"What is art but life upon the larger scale, the higher. When, graduating up in a spiral line of still expanding and ascending gyres, it pushes toward the intense significance of all things, hungry for the infinite?" - Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's classic poem, If Thou Must Love Me. Enjoy!

The Craft of Writing in the Blogosphere


News from the World of Writing