Archive | May 2016

The Joys of Being a B-Book Author

120px-Rippl_Young_Girl_Dressed_in_YellowWhat is a B-Book Author? If you write e-Books, you know. It one of the two million e-Book authors that are stuck in the bottom tier, with more arriving daily. Make no mistake, there are many e-Books  deserving of the bottom tier; faulty grammar and syntax, scammers, and  pamphlets that  claim to be books but are not, but what about e-Books that are well written but cannot move because they are being crushed into oblivion? It’s a real dilemma, but such is life.

Of course, I and many others  would love to be in the A-Class, but I am not and probably never will be. But here’s the thing. I am retired, have three sources of income, and I live on the prairie where there is nowhere to go and nothing to do. It’s not like I have anything more pressing to do than write B-Books, so in a sense, I guess it’s a hobby.  Here’s the other thing. In the course of creating B-Books, I learned to write, really write. I use punctuation correctly, write with clear concise wording, and keep my paragraphs tight.

I guess, it’s all about perspective, and I would rather be a B-Book Author than never have written anything in my life.  It’s sort of like leaving footprints behind, and that’s not such a bad thing.



Graduation Day 2016; OMG!


My grandson graduated from high school  this afternoon, and I watched with mixed emotions; disbelieving so much time had slipped by without notice, and knowing it would be the last generation I would see graduate during my lifetime.  You get the picture; it was a happy and sad occasion, bittersweet I guess.  I think as I sat there free floating seeing images of a small boy raising his arms to me to be picked up, I realized I was not really paying attention to the program.

The next thing I knew the valedictorian was stepping up to the podium, and after lying his notes out, he stood there looking across the heads of his classmates to he audience. I figured he must have floated away like I had, and forgotten what he was supposed to be doing as well. After a bit he launched into a tale that went something like this.

When you start high school you are brainwashed into believing that you must study hard and get the best grades you can so you will receive a scholarship or get accepted to the best college possible. I tell you as surely as I stand here that is a lie of the greatest magnitude, because when you apply to that great college the first thing you are asked is about clubs and associations you have joined while in high school, furthermore, you will get to write a long essay about how those associations have enriched your life. Now that is all well and fine if one has done that, but what about the student who has spent every weekend in the library, belongs to no associations. and has barely any friends. What does that student write about? That student can expect his application to be given to someone from the debate club, while the student who has spent hour after hour memorizing useless information is accepted to a college somewhere he really doesn’t want to be.

Parents and grandparents in the audience were looking at each other, students were snickering, and the principal looked rather ashen.

After that the he thanked the teachers for trying to be educators in a school system that is flawed and broken, not just here but all across the nation, and finished by telling the other graduating members of his class, ‘This will be the last good day of your life. From here on out, it’s downhill all the way.’

I can’t be sure, but I think that big spoiled baby was throwing a temper tantrum because he didn’t get something he wanted; however, he was right about one thing, from here on out it will downhill all the way, at least for him.

Blonde Bombshell Number One

jeanLong before Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield or Raquel Welch graced the silver screen, there was Jean Harlow, and only Jean Harlow. Officially, the first blonde bombshell of the silver screen and sex symbol of the 30’s, she was discovered by the legendary aviator turned director, Howard Hughes.

Born  Harlean Harlow Carpenter on 3 March 1911 in Kansas City, Missouri, as the only child of a dentist and his wife. Her mother called her ‘Baby’ and was so possessive in later life Jean related she didn’t even know her name was Harlean until she started school. As her parent’s marriage faltered and failed, her mother clutched ‘Baby’ even closer until Jean married and her husband moved her to Beverly Hills, California in 1928 basically to separate her from her clinging mother. The mother followed, and the couple divorced the following year.

Either the stars aligned or the moon moved to the seventh house, because Jean crossed paths with Howard Hughes, and Jean Harlow the socialite became Jean Harlow the star of Hughes first film, ‘Hell’s Angels’, released in 1930. To capitalize on her hair color, Hughes renamed another movie he was working on, and she became the star of  ‘Platinum Blonde’. When female fans begin dying their hair to match hers, Hughes organized a series of ‘Platinum Blonde’ events with a prize of $10,000 to any beautician who could match Harlow’s hair shade; an impossible task as Harlow’s look was achieved through weekly applications of ammonia, Clorox bleach, and Lux soap flakes.

The stars once again shifted for Jean, and on her  21st birthday Hughes sold her contract to MGM for $30,000 at the height of her popularity. Jean Harlow had to have been born under an unlucky star, because while filming ‘Saratoga’ with Clark Gable she was struck down by a mystery illness that lingered. There appeared to be no cure for what ailed Jean, and for Jean Harlow there was no happy ending. Originally diagnosed as flu complicated by an inflamed gall bladder, a second opinion revealed she was in the later stages of kidney failure. Little was known about kidney disease in the 30’s, and there was much speculation about Jean’s condition being related to her hair applications.

On 6 June 1937, Jean was taken to  Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles where her mother barricaded the door, and repelled all visitors except doctors. She slipped into a coma, and died the next morning at age 26. She was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale in the Great Mausoleum under the name Jean Harlow; however, the faceplate on her crypt bears the simple inscription, ‘Our Baby’. Her mother was laid to rest beside her in 1958. Due to public outcry, Saratoga was finished with three doubles instead of replacing Harlow. Originally scheduled to be released in 1937, Saratoga was released two months after Harlow’s death.

For whatever reason, the 40’s ushered in the brunettes; Joan Crawford, Linda Darnell, Lauren Bacall, Jean Tierney, Vivian Leigh, Olivia de Havillan, Judy Garland, and so many more, but Jean Harlow’s star is secure. She was and is the first blonde bombshell of the silver screen. Actually, the silver screen may never see the ‘Harlow’ look again, if hair treatments made of bleach, ammonia, and soap flakes are required, but she was the ‘Baby’, and what a babe she was.

Who’s Reading What?

456px-Thorma_Reading_Woman_1928Recently I had occasion to be in the company of a dozen or so women of various ages, and thought what better opportunity?

“So tell me,” I asked sitting down at a table, “Who’s reading what because I am a fledging writer trying to determine current reading trends.”

One woman looked me in the eye, and said, “If I were writing a book, which I’m not, I would write about sex and lots of it. It is the only thing that sells.”

Suggestions started flying around the table, and people from the next table pulled their chairs over to our table, no doubt thinking it some sort of strange parlor game.

“Hot sex, zombies, modern vampires, doomsday, life after doomsday, interplanetary travel, things from outer space invading people’s bodies, dystopian fiction, bigfoot, yeti, witches, and more sex. You simply must do the sex thing no matter who or what it’s with.”

“What would a book like that look like?” I queried, because to my way of thinking it’s rather difficult to write anything if you don’t know what you’re writing about.

They actually laughed at me. “Hell we don’t know, but those are the things people are reading. You write it and we’ll buy it.”

It’s Kiss A Cop Week

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want them? Right now!”


Those words were chanted in America’s largest cities with glee while standing on the sidelines were the valiant law enforcement officers watching and waiting. It’s pure hate speech fueled by a lawless Administration, self-serving elected officials  in many large cities, and Black Lives Matters..

This is the week we honor our  police officers and law enforcement officers. As part of that week of remembrance,  President Obama passed out 13 Medals of Valor to officers who risked their lives to save others. He then launched into a speech about a bipartisan overhaul to make the criminal justice system fairer, smarter and more effective so that officers are well-equipped to enforce the country’s laws, and ended by saying, “Our country needs that right now.”

That’s a rather curious statement as this country has always needed our police officers so what bipartisan effort was he talking about? President Obama will soon leave us, and that same bipartisan effort he spoke of, in an effort to overhaul the Federal Government to make it smarter and more effective, will move swiftly to hustle his sorry ass out the door.

The Big eBook Cover Debate

“If you don’t buy a  professional cover for your eBook, your book will never sell.”

gdansk-77573__180Authors of eBooks have bought into this belief, and as a result, a cottage industry has emerged; people creating eBook covers and selling them to eBook authors. Prices range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. This is not to say don’t buy professional covers if you want to, but here’s the thing; why would you want to?

A cover is just that, the front of a book, and if you cannot write in a cohesive fashion using proper grammar and syntax, does it really matter what’s on the front of that book?

The above picture comes from ‘Pixabay’, a collection of free pictures, and is a street in Poland. There is also  ‘Morgue File’ and ‘Wikimedia Commons’.  All three are free to use, and have pictures that adapt well  for eBook covers.

This is that very same picture after I cropped it to capture the portion I wanted, enhanced it a little, and sized it to eBooks standards, 1410 x 1900 pixels.  This is exactly the look I was after, and I didn’t pay hundreds for it.  With Adobe Photoshop Elements costing less than $100., it’s a fun thing to do, unless you are one of those authors who claim they write books using cell phones.


Destination Dead:

The above book is just a little novella, but it holds it own. It’s been in continuous publication for two years, which surprises me. Is it a best seller? Absolutely not, but it’s enduring. Many people have commented on the cover, and what is there to say except, “I made it myself, and you could do likewise.”

What Does Detroit Have To Do With The Prairie?


This question was asked of me, and I actually was trying to think of an answer knowing one had nothing to do with the other, unless Detroit had been relocated to a cornfield which I figured was not the case. After some back and forth questions the person finally said, “Your blog name is prairie writer, but your books always have Detroit somewhere in them so are you a prairie writer or a Detroit writer?”

I had never thought of it in those terms, but I suppose that is how the two are related; a Detroit writer living on the prairie, although, I have been far removed from Detroit for several decades but it calls to me sometimes. They say the place where you are born does that, and I guess that must be true, more or less, because quite without knowing how Detroit always finds it way to my books.

This is one of those books. The title is misleading and sounds like anyone who ventures to Detroit ends up dead. Just not true, and it’s really about a man who travels to Detroit for nefarious reasons, a homeless man living behind a dumpster, and the woman who walks between the two. It’s also about a town rising up to take care of their own.

Maybe, I need to get myself back to Detroit for a visit so I can write about Boise, Sacramento, or Seattle.  Just saying.





Mothers Then and Now


There’s only so much one can do with a sixty-five year old picture pulled from an old photo album. In this case, I laid it on a meat board where the light would shine on it, took a picture of it with my cell phone, pushed it through to Photo Shop Elements, and cleaned it up a bit.

So who are these smiling people? Who else but mothers in my family being remembered on Mother’s Day. The couple on the left are my grandparents, the couple on the right are my parents, and the beauty in front is my aunt.

So what is a mother? Not a beauty flashing a big smile, which these women are. It’s a little more complex than that.

A mother is a woman sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but someone never meaning to maim with her words or actions. She is motivated by caring and sharing, shifting priorities, and love. She passes out cookies and band aids with a smile, cries when she receives a painted rock for a present, and prepares her child or children for adulthood dreading the day when it arrives. Merely, she is a woman trying to be the best mother she can, and if she falls short of expectations, she gets up and gives it another try. She is not perfect, does not want to be put on a pedestal, and as this picture proves, no matter what she will always be a mother. Now then and forever.’ 

Roses Don’t Grow In Havana

flowersThe cruise ship Adonia, operated by Fathom Travel, a unit of Carnival Corporation, docked in Havana, Cuba on Monday with 704 passengers aboard. At any other seaport anywhere in the world, this would hardly be a newsworthy event. Because the ship had traversed the 90-miles of ocean between Miami and Havana, it was a sight that had not been witnessed in forty years due to the severance of diplomatic ties between the two countries. To those younger than forty, it was a spectacle they had never witnessed, and they gathered at the dock with cell phones to snap pictures of the historic landing.

Because I had previously spent three years in Havana, I was not aboard the Adonia nor did I want to be, but I can tell you this. As Havana is located on the waterfront, it smells like Lake Michigan, and because the water is the Atlantic Ocean, the air is damp and salty. The climate is tropical and muggy, and hurricanes are frequent. Due to these factors, one cannot beg, borrow, steal or buy a rose bush in Havana. Palm trees are everywhere and flowering shrubs that thrive in acidic conditions do well, but alas, no roses. To circumvent this ghastly shortage, I painted  these while in Havana, and put them by the front door least I forgot what a rose looked like.


Only this left to say. I will never be on that cruise ship because not only do roses not thrive in Havana, it hurt my heart to witness people living without personal freedoms.

Prince: A Case Study In Safety Zones


Sociology is the study of social behaviors in a society that defines the social norm. Sometimes referred to as Social Studies, I tend to think it’s not currently part of the school curriculum, but has been replaced with sensitivity training, political correctness, the importance of one’s self, and the preservation of  personal safety zones. Simply put, it’s not about acceptable social behavior anymore but about personal entitlements.

A concrete illustration of this was the college students whining on television because someone wrote ‘Trump’ on the sidewalk in chalk, which according to them, violated their peace of mind and the sanctity of their personal safety zones. It is unclear what will happen to those poor disillusioned babes after leaving the shelter of academia, because there are no safety zones in society other than the ones you create for yourself.

Recently the world lost a very talented performer who apparently was gravely ill for quite some time, and suffering intense pain for a variety of reasons. By all accounts, he was surrounded by a circle of staffers and relatives to tend his every need. Therefore, it seems rather strange he died alone on an elevator floor and no one knew until the next day. How can it be that not one person in that circle seemed motivated enough to get him safely to his private quarters, or better yet, take him to the hospital?

Those college students crying about a name written on the sidewalk need pay heed to this lesson because when they stumble and fall, they cannot count on a safety zone to protect them. Inevitably, a whole barrage of people will storm their tent with hands out demanding personal entitlements.

Is this what we have come to as a society; walking over dead bodies to find the mother lode?