This postcard came in the mail the other day: I can help you stop thinking about whatever it is you are thinking about. Call me. Followed by a name and number, both of which I’ve since forgotten. In fact, I’ve forgotten pretty much everything about my life before I received that postcard in the mail, and almost everything since. I am still, in my mind, standing there at the mailbox, looking at the postcard. On the front of the card is an old-fashioned 1950’s-type American businessman, complete with Clark Kent suit and glasses. He is standing in front of a mailbox, a postcard in his right hand. On the postcard is an image of a cowboy, dusty and dirty and scratching his head with his left hand while looking at a piece of paper he is holding in his right. I can’t see what is written on the paper but I’m pretty sure it’s much in line with what is written on the back of mine: I can help you stop thinking about whatever it is you are thinking about. It’s a serious business. That was what I was thinking, at least. This message, passed down through the generations, through all the variable timelines. It must be important. Clark Kent thinks so. The cowboy thinks so too. We are all focused, preoccupied. We want to stop thinking about whatever it is we are thinking about. Rain forests? How much damage can be done to a cloud before it breaks? What color would the wind be if the wind had a color? Is there an asteroid coming and when? If you could cut an atom with scissors would the world explode or just be raggedy? I was not thinking about any of these things before but now I am. Now I am standing there holding the postcard in my hand and I am thinking all the things, all at once. I can’t stop thinking. I remember someone telling me once that there is no such thing as neurosis; it’s just people thinking too much and when you think too much you run out of things to think about and then you go a little crazy. I am going a little crazy right now. I think.
Big Wrong stepped up to the plate and confessed he didn’t know how to fucking meditate. The friendly churchgoers at Our Lady of the Stop Sign didn’t take too kindly to his utterance.
“This here’s not for bad words,” Old Olga said, jabbing in his general direction with one of her gigantic lime green knitting needles.
“It’s nothing for confession, neither,” added Gloria B. while munching on a breath mint.
“Let the man speak his mind,” Little Wrong shouted from his pew way back in the back. “If a man’s got a need to confess then let him the fuck unload his weary mind.”
This was too much for Old Olga, who jumped up from her specially reserved bench up front and waved both needles towards the back of the room.
“I’ve had enough of the both of you,” she yelled. “Every week it’s the same gosh darn thing. Bad words, bad feelings, talking too much, saying too little, I don’t know why you even bother coming in here.”
“Mandatory sentencing,” Big Wrong said from his perch behind the pulpit.
“Yeah, we got to,” Little Wrong shouted from the back.
Old Olga shook her head and sat back down, once again considering her options. She could switch up churches once again. There was an Our Lady of the Telephone Pole right down the block. She’d heard good things. Or maybe she could check out M’Lady of the Beaker. They were serving until eleven and had a decent jukebox. One thing was for sure. She’d had enough of these jokers here. No respect. No piety. Don’t even know how to fucking meditate.
Thanks to a blog post by my friend and much-admired writer Michael Graeme, I went back to look at some of the books I’d posted ages ago on the (rather dodgy)website Free-Ebooks.net (tip, you can self-publish there for free as long as you side-step their efforts to get your money). There I was surprised to find they had created and posted all-new covers for several of my books. I’m not complaining. It’s a pretty obscure site that never generated much interest in my stories . I just find it fairly hilarious. Here are some of their attempts:
My favorite is probably Secret Sidewalk (perhaps because it is my personal favorite of all my books) though it captures nothing at all of the content. Snapdragon Alley is not so bad either.
Finished up today and posted on Smashwords as well as Kindle and Wattpad (where it was born and bred). Sometimes you just have to stop and say it’s done.
Description: Told in the style of a combined social media feed, ‘This and That’ relates several overlapping and interwoven stories; a woman facing treatment for cancer, a man held hostage for no reason by a foreign government, a global corporation enamored of its power and reach, an unstable future world disorder, and more. Filled with drama, pathos and dark, dark humor, ‘This and That’ is a piece of performance fiction that was improvised live as it didn’t actually happen.
This is what’s next – my new work, to be serialized only here on Wattpad. It’s an idea I’ve been tossing around for a while and I think it might have some legs. If fictions are reflections of life, then a lot of “the way we live now” is through endless scrolling through a variety of sources – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, news feeds and so on. As in Julio Cortazar’s book “All Fires the Fire”, in our world it’s “All Apps the App” – they all blend together in the day-to-day experience of them. Along with blogs and postings of our own are mingled the postings and realities of everything we choose (and some we don’t) to let into our senses. This work is an attempt to capture some of that experience. It will also have story, characters, and drama stirred together in the overall pot. It will incorporate some of my ongoing thoughts and personal experiences with cancer and with the world as it is, along with ideas from my own collection of items in my Flipboard magazine Cashier World, my own feeds feeding into this feed book.
felt like sharing a couple of interesting reviews i found on amazon, from people who have clearly read other stories of mine and have a sense of what to expect. such reviews are rare and, in the words of my father, ‘happy-making’
The main characters are kids, but that doesn’t make it a kid’s book. I can’t imagine a young reader getting into this, as a general rule, unless that young reader were particularly ambitious, flexible, and open to experiment.
The book struck me on two levels. On one level Lichtenberg treats the prospect of an escape or gateway to another reality with restraint, melancholy, and a hint of quiet desperation, which is not your usual approach to fantasy gateways. His various characters approach the prospect of such a gateway with reluctance or zeal or enthusiasm, but always tinted by an undercurrent of sadness or disappointment. An appealing approach that can get under the reader’s skin.
Of more immediate impact, for me, was the second level – the level at which the author created his kid characters. The two older kids, who first explore the references to mysterious Snapdragon Alley, are distinct and memorable characters, built from the ground up and unique in their perspectives and presence. Only relatively briefly on the stage, they remain in the mind. The third kid, Argus, is the youngest and the one most attuned to the ineffable mystery of the gateway, and he sneaks into the story and then takes it over about halfway through. I enjoyed every moment spent with this character, (and I understand that he reappears in later stories, although I have not read them yet).
So, if you would like to enjoy some lovely, restrained, but also edgy and acrobatic writing, well this might be just the right choice for you. (Please note that I found this book a while ago while browsing Amazon Kindle freebies. At this point in time I believe it is still free. I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.)
Our vampires are sort of melancholy. The subway setting pretty much describes the limits of their existence. Their romance is sad, ironic and lackluster. At the risk of sounding a little artsy-fartsy, these are tone poems. Little works that offer such depth and insight as the reader cares to find. I’ve read enough of Lichtenberg’s work to find his stories oddly appealing in a low key sort of fashion.
So, if you’re curious and feeling a bit adventurous, this could be a nice way to sample Lichtenberg’s work
I’ve nearly completed half of my pledge to take a year off from writing fiction, and it’s helped that I’ve been swamped at work, putting in around 60 hours a week at the old open-floor-plan-paradise-prison that passes for the norm in Silicon Valley these days. With a partial clearing in the release schedule, though, I’ve found a bit of time to catch up and hunker down with some of my favorite writers on Wattpad.
@DawnAdrie – Rules of Escape – is a journey into the linked minds of otherwise institutionalized autistic young people. This story is quite original and succeeds very well in shifting perspective among several characters, some of whom are inside, and some of whom are outside the telepathic circle . There are abundant twists and turns and I’m genuinely excited every time a new chapter pops up in my mobile notifications because I never have any idea whose turn it’s going to be or how it’s going to advance the story.
@ShalonSims – The Dreaming: Dark Star Book Five – the next in an exciting and ambitious tale of a world where totalitarian rulers harness the power of dream walkers in a battle of unlikely factions, featuring the old and the young, the innocent and the suspect, the foolish and the wise, the human and the alien. There’s a lot to unpack in this and its related series, all well worth looking in to.
@LaraBlunte – Blame the Devil – she’s at it again. Yet another irresistible page-turner from the unstoppable @LaraBlunte, a writer of such talent and mystique that she even has me reading romance fiction, almost against my will, and enjoying it immensely, because of her great style and perspective. I always say that my favorite feature of reading is how it lets you remotely occupy the mind of another person. It’s always a treat visiting this one.
@MichaelGraeme – The Sea View Cafe – and speaking of treats, Michael is rolling out another instantly hypnotic story of individuals pulled along by their own incomprehensible inner forces. In other words, literature. Michael’s writing always reminds me of the classics, writers like Conrad and James, Thackery and Eliot. He’s a masterful stylist and quietly burrows you deep inside his characters’ souls. His The Price of Being with Sunita is still resonating, months after I finished reading it.
Highly recommended, all.
In a general note, I’ve enjoyed that past few weeks of having my last story, ‘How my Brained Ended up Inside this Box’, featured on Wattpad. It was even on the top row of the app for a few days there and got a bunch of ‘eyes’ looking at it (also thanks to the beautiful new cover someone made for me (I won’t mention their name here so they don’t get besieged with requests!). Another friend recently made some new covers for some of my other stories – what a great treat. I’m so grateful. But what I started out to say was that you have to enjoy these moments as they happen and not try to hang on to them forever. As a bookseller for many years I became accustomed to the rhythms of the business, and the cycles of sales enjoyed by books as they came and went throughout the years. You’d come across gems and want everyone to read them but their time is always limited. Whenever I think of ‘success’ in fiction I think of The Stories of Breece D’J Pancake, an excellent writer who had several stories featured famously and one book which had its shining moment in the sun. His own moment, his life, was sadly far too short, ending in suicide. I believe we ought to love our time as best we can, and let the things we do, the things we create, have their own time, detach them from our selves, and let them go. They are not us. We have our own stories to live.