Tag Archives: Point Spread

A name for this newsletter; more on Shakespeare; the lost eloquence of the sports page: newsletter, Feb. 23, 2018

Hi,

My life is continually blessed with remarkable people and interesting information. Those people include readers of this newsletter. You folks continue to write, sometimes to correct, sometimes to add to what I have written, and occasionally to compliment.

And just so you know, the newsletter is going out to about 3,500 people this week; that’s down from more than 4,000 a few weeks ago. I trimmed the list down to eliminate folks who had not opened and engaged in the past few weeks. Then I added a few from the Amazon gift card raffle that a few of us authors sponsored. The total number of people on the list is not important. What counts, they tell me (they being the “experts” in this field), is the “open rate,” the percentage of folks who actually open the email and click to display the images or click on one of the links. A good open rate is about 25 percent. For the past few weeks, the open rate for this newsletter has been 38-40 percent.

So, many thanks to you readers.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Shakespeare’s effect on the English language

Last week the newsletter had a piece about a recently discovered source for some of William Shakespeare’s writing. We have no direct knowledge of what sources Shakespeare used or what he read, so everything in this realm has to be said tentatively. What we do know about Shakespeare is the effect that he had on the English language. Shakespeare was the first to use many of the words commonly used today. He turned phrases that were so meaningful and memorable that we still use them everyday.

The list of phrases is long and varied: the game is up; the truth will out; if the truth were known; send him packing; laughing stock; green-eyed monster. The words, too: swagger, bedazzle, hurry, and many more.

Check out this short piece on JPROF.com to find more. Watch the video. Then go exploring yourself. What’s your favorite word or phase that Shakespeare originated?

Next week: One more piece about Shakespeare (unless something else comes up); What did Shakespeare look like?

Vince Vawter’s new novel: Copyboy; to be released in August

Friend and fellow newsletter reader Vince Vawter is about to have has second novel published, and it deserves mention here. Vince was in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago and met with his editor at Capstone Publishing, and he tells me that they have just about settled on a cover (right).

Vince’s first novel is titled Paperboy, and it’s the story of a boy growing up in Memphis who has a stutter. Vince himself is a stutterer, and the story rings true on every page. The novel was a Newberry Honor Award winner, and the Washington Post said: “[Vawter’s] characterization of Little Man feels deeply authentic, with . . . his fierce desire to be ‘somebody instead of just a kid who couldn’t talk right.”

Vince spent his professional career in the newspaper business and finished as the publisher of the Evansville (Ind.) Courier and Press.

His new title is Copyboy, and it’s a book to look forward to. It’s the story of a young man’s trip down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, and it should be out in August.

The lost eloquence of the American sports page

The American sports page, in the Golden Age of the 1920s, was the home of lyrical, eloquent, and erudite writing that honored the magic of athletic competition as well as the magnificence of the English language. Consider this paragraph:

“Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden.”

That’s how Grantland Rice, sports writer for the New York Tribune, began his account of the Notre Dame-Army football game of 1924. Notre Dame, led by its great backfield, won the game against a strong team from the United States Military Academy (Army).

The Four Horsemen postage stamp

No paragraph in the history of sports journalism has been quoted more than this one. The “Four Horsemen” became part of the legend of Notre Dame football, and publicists at the University placed the four footballers on four horses for a famous photograph. That photograph was turned into a postage stamp more than 50 years later.

Some of the greats of American literature — Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, Jimmy Cannon — were sports writers. Read more about this topic on JPROF.com and then follow the links for even more information and great writing.

The Feminine Mystique and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

One of the often-overlooked phenomena of the 1960s — the time when I was a teenager and grew into adulthood — was the change in the status of American women during that decade. The change was one of the major motivating ideas for my writing the novel Point Spread. The central character of that novel, Maxine Wayman, has dreams and ambitions, but she runs into the roadblock of “being a girl.”

I make no claim to being a particularly progressive thinker as a teenager or a college student. I’m sure I was part of the problem more than part of the solution, but I did know many bright, talented, and ambitious girls who had to overcome obstacles that I never faced.

In some ways, Maxine is my continuing tribute to those young women.

These thoughts were sparked this week by a short piece in the New York Times Daily Briefing that noted that it was this week, 55 years ago, that The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan was published.

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and became a phenomenal best-seller over the following two years.

Read the rest of this post and find out more about the book, The Feminine Mystique, on JPROF.com.

Giveaways and Amazon gift card winner

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

https://www.instafreebie.com/gg/HCqRcAvQK0Pr9IpLcGT4Addictive Suspense and Thrillers Giveaway.This giveaway, which includes Kill the Quarterback, is a carefully compiled selection of high-octane, fast-paced mystery-suspense-thrillers, full of action, suspense and drama from debut to bestselling authors. Some of the books are already available while others are coming soon. Take a moment to check them out and claim any that intrigue you for absolutely free.

A name for this newsletter?

For a couple of weeks now I have asked: Does this newsletter need a name?

I have mentioned The Writing Wright and JPROF Journal. One reader suggested Jim’s Jottings. Another: Jim’s Musings. Then newsletter reader and regular correspondent Tod wrote this:

A name? “The Stove” would be unique. Or “Pot-bellied Stove.” We could keep warm by The Stove. I am mildly against the use of references to “writing” (jotting, journal, scribbles, and so on) in the name of a journal or newsletter because that would be redundant*. Of course it’s a journal/jotting/diary; you don’t need to point out the obvious. Besides, such use is all too common. You want something unique and not look like part of the crowd. “The Quarterback Sneak” sounds interesting and it plays on your football titles.

* sort of like the local newspaper of a town in Virginia, the Newport News News.

That got me to thinking. What about The Hot Stove League? That expression comes from the baseball world, and it describes a time when people would sit around a hot stove in the winter and discuss last season or next season or politics and books or anything else that might be on their minds. I like it. I may go with it.
Let me know what you think.

Compliments

It is gratifying beyond words — and extremely humbling — to receive compliments about this newsletter from readers. Lately, my cup runneth over.

Maria K: It’s always very diverse! and very informative. I may not always click on a link, but I do read it from start to finish. Thank you,

Alice C: I would like to take a moment to compliment you on your newsletter. Not only do I take the time to read it each week, but I look forward to it as well. I look forward to the eclectic content as I find there are always one or two articles which elicit further exploration.

Dorothy B: I am opening and enjoying your newsletter, Jim. Thanks for sending it.

Angie L: Me, Myself and I ( sorry it had to be done) look forward to opening and reading every part of your newsletter. I think I would really miss them should they stop.

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Franklin Roosevelt (caricature)

Last week it was Eleanor. This week it’s Franklin. I’ll have more about them both in next week’s newsletter.

Best quote of the week:

The trade of governing has always been monopolized by the most ignorant and the most rascally individuals of mankind.

Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. Add to these those devastated by the California wildfires — and now floods. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter


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‘The Feminine Mystique’ and the change in women’s status in the 1960s

One of the often-overlooked phenomena of the 1960s — the time when I was a teenager and grew into adulthood — was the change in the status of American women during that decade. The change was one of the major motivating ideas for my writing the novel Point Spread. The major character of that novel, Maxine Wayman, has dreams and ambitions, but she runs into the roadblock of “being a girl.”

Point Spread by Jim Stovall

I make no claim to being a particularly progressive thinker as a teenager or a college student. I’m sure I was part of the problem more than part of the solution, but I did know many bright, talented, and ambitious girls who had to overcome obstacles that I never faced.

In some ways, Maxine is my continuing tribute to those young women.

These thoughts were sparked this week by a short piece in the New York Times Daily Briefing that noted that it was this week, 55 years ago, that The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan was published.

The book summed up many of the frustrations that middle-class women had experienced, especially if they had set aside ambitions and careers to become suburban housewives and mothers. From the day it was published, it sparked criticism from many quarters (and continues to do so today), but it struck a chord with many women and became a phenomenal best-seller over the following two years.

More importantly, the book became a touchstone of the women’s movement of the 1960s and is now considered its most important spark.

Betty Friedan used the success of the book to form the National Organization for Women (NOW), which has lobbied consistently and effectively for equal opportunity and equal pay for women.

Friedan grew up in Peoria, Illinois, the daughter of well-to-do Jewish parents. She was smart and ambitious but unable to fully exercise those qualities until she arrived at Smith College in 1938. She graduated in 1942 and won a fellowship to study psychology at the University of California under Erik Erikson. She was awarded another fellowship that would have allowed her to work on a doctorate, but her boyfriend at the time pressured her to turn it down. She did, but she also broke up with the boyfriend and headed to New York City where she worked as a writer and editor.

By the mid-1950s, Friedan was a mother and suburban housewife, working when she could as a freelance writer. She had been asked by Smith College to conduct a survey of her fellow graduates for a class reunion in 1957. She expected to find those well-educated women happy and fulfilled as wives and mothers. She found instead a great deal of anger and frustration.

That finding led her to re-examine her own life and to begin writing articles about what she had found.

That writing, in turn, led to the idea of a book, and by 1963 The Feminine Mystique was on the shelves. During the next three and a half decades, it sold more than three million copies.

The criticism of the book and of Friedan herself never ceased. Part of the criticism was brought on by her outspokenness and her often-abrasive personality. She was also taken to task for supposedly ignoring poor and minority women and for being actively anti-lesbian. She was also attacked for denigrating motherhood and the importance of the work of women who stayed at home and raised children.

Still, both she and her book persisted in influencing generations of women and men into examining their roles and relationships. Friedan died in 2006 at the age of 85.

Read Friedan’s obituary in the New York Times.

A ‘day’ becomes a ‘date’; Poe’s rules for detective fiction; a little bit of Henry Fowler

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,140) on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017.

Hi, 

Last week’s question: Were there no Americans before 1776?

An answer came in from newsletter reader and good friend Jane P:

There were many Americans long before 1776, in the numerous Native American societies and groups across what became the U.S. and other modern countries of North and South America. I recommend a compelling book “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann. Here’s a link to the New York Times book review: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/09/books/review/1491-vanished-americans.html

Thanks, Jane.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Edgar Allan Poe and the development of the detective/mystery novel

American author Edgar Allan Poe — whom we all read in school and some continued to read long afterwards — gets lots of credit for developing the modern detective/mystery novel. He was not the first to write about mysterious crime and its solution, but his five short stories (Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Purloined Letter, The Mystery of Marie Roget, Thou Art the Man, and The Gold Bug) pointed the way for future writers to develop this genre.

In addition, Poe — the literary critic — had some definite thoughts about the detective story. It should contain the “unity of effect of impression” that he believed could only be achieved by a short story or something that could be read in one sitting. Plenty of authors have taken the detective story to the novel form and maintained this unity. But Poe also wrote that

the mystery should be preserved throughout most of the story, 

that the mystery should converge in the denouement (“There should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design.”), and

that no “undue or inartistic means should be used by the author to conceal the solution to the mystery.”

This information all comes from Detnovel.com, a website created by Prof. William Marling, who has written extensively on the topic of the detective novel.

December 7, 1941: ‘Day’ becomes ‘date’ — and a historic phrase is born

On the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked, President Franklin Roosevelt dictated a speech that would become one of the most famous in American history. Unlike more modern presidents, who employ an army of speechwriters, Roosevelt wrote much of his own speeches.

He began this one by dictating to Grace Tully, his secretary. The first draft of his first sentence was, “Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a day which will live in world history . . . .”

Roosevelt was a notorious and perfecting editor, particularly of his own copy. No one knows what went through his mind when he was writing and editing this speech, but the evidence that he was giving each word much thought can be found in the image at the right. He made many changes to that draft. To Roosevelt, those first words were important, and they had to be right. They must have sounded flat, like the beginning of a dull history lesson.

Somewhere in the process, “day” became “date,” signifying a larger and more memorable moment in history than just a day. And “world history” became “infamy.” Roosevelt needed a word that would express the outrage that Americans felt about being “suddenly and deliberately attacked.”

Infamy was the word he chose. It hadn’t come to him at first. It came only in the editing process.

And it has become an indelible part of American history.

Read more about this speech and its context here on JPROF.com

True crime podcasts (continued): Casefile

Casefile, a well written and well delivered podcast from Australia, deals with stories of real crime under the moniker: “Fact is scarier than fiction.” Casefile is this week’s true crime podcast recommendation. Casefile deals with crimes from all over the world, not just Australia, but their native cases are often the most interesting and intriguing. The narration is delivered by Anonymous Host, an unnamed voice whose Australian accent is positively charming. The podcasts are well-researched and tightly written and are a pleasure to listen to. Casefile has a large following around the world and has gathered a number of prestigous awards. After listening to a few episodes, it’s easy to see why. Start with Episode 66: The Black Widow and get hooked.

Here’s what else we’ve recommended so far:

True Crime All the Time , hosted by Mike Ferguson and Mike Gibson, or “Gibby,” presents some fascinating cases, and the hosts are well informed (though not experts of any sort). Both have engaging personalities, and a big part of the fun is just hearing them play off of each other. Try episode 45, the case of Adolpho Constanzo and Sara Aldrete. It’s typical of Mike and Gibby’s approach. (Be careful; some of this episode is graphic and hard to take.)

Real Crime Profile, with three excellent hosts, have discussions of criminal cases that are riveting and insightful. The link provided above is to a list of some of the recent podcasts. Start anywhere. You will be fascinated. (Real Crime Profile on Facebook.)

Dirty John: Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has written and narrates a series called Dirty John. It’s the story of Debra Newell and John Meehan and is a true crime podcast of the highest order. It will take you a while to get through it, but once you start, you’ll likely be hooked. The reporting is thorough, the interviews are fascinating, and the story is full of twists, turns, and surprises. The ending is well worth the journey. Here’s a link to part 1, “The Real Thing.”

Sword and Scale. This website and podcast, according to its own description, is about “the dark underworld of crime and the criminal justice system’s response to it.” The folks associated with Sword and Scale have spent a lot of time producing interesting and informative podcasts about serious crimes. One episode I listened to was episode 90. It was an hour well spent.

Do you have any true crime podcast recommendations to share with fellow readers?

Crimes Against English: Readers’ pet peeves

Reader and friend Dan C. (Las Vegas) writes:

My pet peeve with the English language (though I assume it is happening in all languages) is the destruction of spelling, punctuation, and grammar brought about by original SMS text and Twitter character count limitations. The flaws of texting are taking over email and even the actual written word. The French went after what they felt was the terrible destruction of their language in the 1970’s, with the influx of Americanisms and words (Blue Jeans was a big no no). I haven’t heard the same uproar with the bastardization of language from texting.

What’s your pet peeve about English, its use or misuse?

Giveaways

Christmas Spree Giveaway. As usual each month, I get together with some other authors to sponsor an Amazon gift card giveaway. This month’s giveaway is $180, which should come in handy for some Christmas shopping. The giveaway sign-up runs from Dec. 1 to Dec. 15, and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter. Go to this Rafflecopter link to sign up: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/77deea0966/?

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

More from The Devil’s Dictionary

More entries from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, these from the letter F:

FINANCE, n. The art or science of managing revenues and resources for the best advantage of the manager. The pronunciation of this word with the i long and the accent on the first syllable is one of America’s most precious discoveries and possessions.

FLAG, n. A colored rag borne above troops and hoisted on forts and ships. It appears to serve the same purpose as certain signs that one sees on vacant lots in London—”Rubbish may be shot here.”

FORGETFULNESS, n. A gift of God bestowed upon doctors in compensation for their destitution of conscience.

FUNERAL, n. A pageant whereby we attest our respect for the dead by enriching the undertaker, and strengthen our grief by an expenditure that deepens our groans and doubles our tears.

The savage dies—they sacrifice a horse
  To bear to happy hunting-grounds the corpse.
  Our friends expire—we make the money fly
  In hope their souls will chase it to the sky.

You can get a free copy of The Devil’s Dictionary in a variety of formats through Project Gutenberg.

A bit of Henry Watson Fowler wisdom

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned Henry Watson Fowler’s book, Modern English Usage, as a good volume to have for those who are interested in English. Fowler is superb in writing about the nuances of the language, and I thought I would give some some bit of flavor of his book. This is the entry on the word intended:

Intended, n. It is curious that betrothed people should find it so difficult to hit upon a comfortable word to describe each other by. ‘My intended’, ‘my fiance(e)’ , ‘my sweetheart’, ‘my love(r)’, ‘my (wo)man’, ‘my boy (girl) friend’, ‘my future wife (husband)’, ‘my wife (husband) to be’ — none of these is much to their taste, too emotional, or too French, or too vulgar, or too evasive. The last two objections are in fact one; evasion of plain words is vulgarity; and “my intended” gives the impression that the poor things are shy of specifying the bond between them; so too with ‘my engaged,’ and the modern word ‘steady’ does not necessarily imply serious intentions. And so in finance(e), they resort to French instead of vague English for their embarrassing though futile disguise. It is no doubt too late to suggest that another chance be given to betrothed. It means just what it should, i.e., pledged to be married, and is not vulgarized and would be a dignified word for public use. But it is so out of fashion as to sound facetious.

Fowler’s book is full of this kind of stuff. Get one for yourself or for someone who loves the language.

 

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Edgar Allen Poe

This is a larger version of the one at the top of this newsletter. The painting is watercolor on Strathmore Bristol hot press paper. I have been practicing portraits lately and using some 19th and 20th century writers and artists as my subjects.

Best quote of the week:

If I can do no more, let my name stand among those who are willing to bear ridicule and reproach for the truth’s sake, and so earn some right to rejoice when the victory is won. Louisa May Alcott, writer and reformist (1832-1888) .

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

 

Reviews:

5-star review: I this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I loved this book! Its plot and characters are quite realistic. Having been a high school teacher I felt the voices of the teens were correctly written. It is a great read!

Kill the Quarterback

5-star review: I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. Wow. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I thought I would read a few pages and then bam! I was hooked! Excellent writing. Excellent story. I could not figure out whodunit and that’s the best kind of mystery. I can’t wait until the next book comes out!

 

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Jean Ritchie and the dulcimer revival — and much more; your pet peeves about English

This newsletter was sent to those on Jim’s email list (4,189) on Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.

Hi,

Last week’s entry about America’s first published poet, Anne Bradstreet, brought this from one of our newsletter readers, Robin K., who has done a good bit of genealogical research on her family:

I thought that name looked familiar – I’m into genealogy. Anne Bradstreet was my 10th great-grandmother on my mother’s side. And technically, there WERE no “Americans” before 1776 – at least that’s what the others I know who also work on genalogy say. Just my small “claim” to fame! 

Thanks, Robin.

OK, folks. Are the genealogists right? Were there no Americans before 1776?

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Jean Ritchie, First Lady of American folk music

If you have ever played, heard, or seen a dulcimer, you have Jean Ritchie to thank.

But the revival and expansion of knowledge about the dulcimer is only the beginning of the contributions this remarkable women made to American music and culture. For more than 60 years, Ritchie gave us her knowledge, understanding, and research of the music that came from Appalachia where she was born. Her beautiful singing voice and pitch-perfect demeanor on and off stage inspired thousands to fall in love with folk music and follow it back to its Scottish and Irish roots.

Ritchie left Kentucky in 1946 to work in a Lower East Side settlement house in New York City. She took along her dulcimer, a musical instrument that most people there had never seen, and a vast quantity of music that she had learned during her childhood. The instrument and the music struck a chord, literally and figuratively, with her New York audiences, and the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960 began in earnest.

Ritchie died in 2015 at the age of 92. Next Friday (Dec. 8) would have been her 95th birthday.

Read more about this extraordinary woman — and listen to some of her music — here on JPROF.com.

True crime podcasts (continued): True Crime All the Time

True Crime All the Time is a podcast hosted by Mike Ferguson and Mike Gibson, or “Gibby.” Mostly, it’s these two guys talking, but they present some fascinating cases, and they are well informed (though not experts of any sort). Both have engaging personalities, and a big part of the fun is just hearing them play off of each other. This podcast has a large and loyal following. Try episode 45, the case of Adolpho Constanzo and Sara Aldrete. It’s typical of Mike and Gibby’s approach. (Be careful; some of this episode is graphic and hard to take.)

Here’s what else we’ve recommended so far:

Real Crime Profile was last week’s true crime podcast recommendation. The three hosts and heir discussions of criminal cases are riveting and insightful. The link provided above is to a list of some of the recent podcasts. Start anywhere. You will be fascinated. (Real Crime Profile on Facebook.)

Dirty John: Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has written and narrates a series called Dirty John. It’s the story of Debra Newell and John Meehan and is a true crime podcast of the highest order. It will take you a while to get through it, but once you start, you’ll likely be hooked. The reporting is thorough, the interviews are fascinating, and the story is full of twists, turns, and surprises. The ending is well worth the journey. Here’s a link to part 1, “The Real Thing.”

Sword and Scale. This website and podcast, according to its own description, is about “the dark underworld of crime and the criminal justice system’s response to it.” The folks associated with Sword and Scale have spent a lot of time producing interesting and informative podcasts about serious crimes. One episode I listened to was episode 90. It was an hour well spent.

Do you have any true crime podcast recommendations to share with fellow readers

Misspelling can be expensive (continued); or Other Crimes Against English

Reader Robin K. (see above) writes:

I wanted to comment about from this week’s epistle – spelling. People rely completely in the automated spell check and don’t proofread. A word could be spelled correctly, but it’s the WRONG word – there, they’re and their for example. That’s one of my pet peeves. 

What’s your pet peeve about English, its use or misuse?

Giveaways

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

More from The Devil’s Dictionary

More entries from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, these from the letter E:

EDUCATION, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.

EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

ELEGY, n. A composition in verse, in which, without employing any of the methods of humor, the writer aims to produce in the reader’s mind the dampest kind of dejection. The most famous English example begins somewhat like this:

The cur foretells the knell of parting day;

The loafing herd winds slowly o’re the lea;

The wise man homeward plods; I only stay

To fiddle-faddle in a minor key.

(Note: This is, of course, a take-off on Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. The real poem is included here below the signature of this email. Thanks to the Poetry Foundation, poetry.org.)

EVANGELIST, n. A bearer of good tidings, particularly (in a religious sense) such as assure us of our own salvation and the damnation of our neighbors.

You can get a free copy of The Devil’s Dictionary in a variety of formats through Project Gutenberg.

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

My copy of the biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson arrived this week. (I purchased it from Amazon. The hardback book was less expensive than the Kindle version. Go figure.) I am going to give this well-reviewed book a very slow read, so it will probably carry me through the New Year. Just a few pages into the book, Isaacson makes a major point about Leonardo’s personality: He was insatiably curious. He wanted to know everything about everything.

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Jean Ritchie

Ritchie’s contributions to American music were enormous. This watercolor is part of my tribute to her. Read more about her on JPROF.com.

Best quote of the week:

Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best. -Henry van Dyke, poet (10 Nov 1852-1933) 

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall 
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

 

Reviews:

5-star review: I this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I loved this book! Its plot and characters are quite realistic. Having been a high school teacher I felt the voices of the teens were correctly written. It is a great read!

Kill the Quarterback

5-star review: I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. Wow. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I thought I would read a few pages and then bam! I was hooked! Excellent writing. Excellent story. I could not figure out whodunit and that’s the best kind of mystery. I can’t wait until the next book comes out!

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day, 
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea, 
The plowman homeward plods his weary way, 
And leaves the world to darkness and to me. 
 
Now fades the glimm’ring landscape on the sight, 
And all the air a solemn stillness holds, 
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, 
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds; 
 
Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tow’r 
The moping owl does to the moon complain 
Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r, 
Molest her ancient solitary reign. 
 
Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade, 
Where heaves the turf in many a mould’ring heap, 
Each in his narrow cell for ever laid, 
The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep. 
 
The breezy call of incense-breathing Morn, 
The swallow twitt’ring from the straw-built shed, 
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn, 
No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed. 
 
For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn, 
Or busy housewife ply her evening care: 
No children run to lisp their sire’s return, 
Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share. 
 
Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield, 
Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke; 
How jocund did they drive their team afield! 
How bow’d the woods beneath their sturdy stroke! 
 
Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, 
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; 
Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile 
The short and simple annals of the poor. 
 
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow’r, 
And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, 
Awaits alike th’ inevitable hour. 
The paths of glory lead but to the grave. 
 
Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault, 
If Mem’ry o’er their tomb no trophies raise, 
Where thro’ the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault 
The pealing anthem swells the note of praise. 
 
Can storied urn or animated bust 
Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath? 
Can Honour’s voice provoke the silent dust, 
Or Flatt’ry soothe the dull cold ear of Death? 
 
Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid 
Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire; 
Hands, that the rod of empire might have sway’d, 
Or wak’d to ecstasy the living lyre. 
 
But Knowledge to their eyes her ample page 
Rich with the spoils of time did ne’er unroll; 
Chill Penury repress’d their noble rage, 
And froze the genial current of the soul. 
 
Full many a gem of purest ray serene, 
The dark unfathom’d caves of ocean bear: 
Full many a flow’r is born to blush unseen, 
And waste its sweetness on the desert air. 
 
Some village-Hampden, that with dauntless breast 
The little tyrant of his fields withstood; 
Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest, 
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country’s blood. 
 
Th’ applause of list’ning senates to command, 
The threats of pain and ruin to despise, 
To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land, 
And read their hist’ry in a nation’s eyes, 
 
Their lot forbade: nor circumscrib’d alone 
Their growing virtues, but their crimes confin’d; 
Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne, 
And shut the gates of mercy on mankind, 
 
The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide, 
To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame, 
Or heap the shrine of Luxury and Pride 
With incense kindled at the Muse’s flame. 
 
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife, 
Their sober wishes never learn’d to stray; 
Along the cool sequester’d vale of life 
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way. 
 
Yet ev’n these bones from insult to protect, 
Some frail memorial still erected nigh, 
With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d, 
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh. 
 
Their name, their years, spelt by th’ unletter’d muse, 
The place of fame and elegy supply: 
And many a holy text around she strews, 
That teach the rustic moralist to die. 
 
For who to dumb Forgetfulness a prey, 
This pleasing anxious being e’er resign’d, 
Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day, 
Nor cast one longing, ling’ring look behind? 
 
On some fond breast the parting soul relies, 
Some pious drops the closing eye requires; 
Ev’n from the tomb the voice of Nature cries, 
Ev’n in our ashes live their wonted fires. 
 
For thee, who mindful of th’ unhonour’d Dead 
Dost in these lines their artless tale relate; 
If chance, by lonely contemplation led, 
Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, 
 
Haply some hoary-headed swain may say, 
“Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn 
Brushing with hasty steps the dews away 
To meet the sun upon the upland lawn. 
 
“There at the foot of yonder nodding beech 
That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high, 
His listless length at noontide would he stretch, 
And pore upon the brook that babbles by. 
 
“Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn, 
Mutt’ring his wayward fancies he would rove, 
Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn, 
Or craz’d with care, or cross’d in hopeless love. 
 
“One morn I miss’d him on the custom’d hill, 
Along the heath and near his fav’rite tree; 
Another came; nor yet beside the rill, 
Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he; 
 
“The next with dirges due in sad array 
Slow thro’ the church-way path we saw him borne. 
Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay, 
Grav’d on the stone beneath yon aged thorn.” 
 
THE EPITAPH 
Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth 
A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown. 
Fair Science frown’d not on his humble birth, 
And Melancholy mark’d him for her own. 
 
Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere, 
Heav’n did a recompense as largely send: 
He gave to Mis’ry all he had, a tear, 
He gain’d from Heav’n (’twas all he wish’d) a friend. 
 
No farther seek his merits to disclose, 
Or draw his frailties from their dread abode, 
(There they alike in trembling hope repose) 
The bosom of his Father and his God. 
 

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More about true crime podcasts; Fowler’s English classic; and giveaways galore

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,261) on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017.

Hi, 

The county where I live, Blount (pronounced blunt) is home to a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies are beautiful any time of the year but especially so during the fall foliage season, which has just ended. There is much more to the Smokies than the beautiful landscapes, however. The mountains are responsible for the watercolor toward the end of this newsletter.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

A remarkable tale of courage

The world lost one of its true heroes with the passing of Jeannie Rousseau in August. While I usually write about people who were writers, Rousseau’s story is too good to pass up without noting. She lived in Paris during World War II and took advantage of all of her resources — fluent German, a delightful disposition, steely courage, and a photographic memory — to score one of the great espionage coups of the war.

Yet, she never made much of what she did, waiting more than 50 years to tell her story and then downplaying its significance.

Read more about this remarkable woman here on JPROF.

More for the fans of true crime

Christopher Goffard, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, has written and narrates a six-part true crime podcast called Dirty John. It’s the story of Debra Newell and John Meehan and is a true crime podcast of the highest order. It will take you a while to get through it, but once you start, you’ll likely be hooked. The reporting is thorough, the interviews are fascinating, and the story is full of twists, turns, and surprises. The ending is well worth the journey.

Meehan is one of those truly evil individuals, and his grip on Newell and her family is compelling. Here’s a link to part 1, “The Real Thing.”

Last week I recommended a series called Sword and Scale. This website and podcast, according to its own description, is about “the dark underworld of crime and the criminal justice system’s response to it.” The folks associated with Sword and Scale have spent a lot of time producing interesting and informative podcasts about serious crimes. One episode I listened to was episode 90. Here’s the description:

When Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist Claudia Rowe, author of The Spider and The Fly, decided to write to a serial killer, she wasn’t prepared for how it would change her life. In her quest to understand the nature of cruelty, she ended up discovering much more about herself.

It was an hour well spent.

Where did English come from, and how it is used?

One of my favorite topics is the English language — its history, development, and use. Over the decades, a number of great scholars have devoted their lives to studying the language, and they have shared their knowledge, understanding, and conclusions with the rest of us.

One of those scholars was Henry Fowler, an English schoolmaster who lived from 1858 to 1933 and made the study of English his lifelong work. Fowler’s classic is A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. It was originally published in 1926 and has since been revised and updated. It is so well known and established as essential among scholars that its title is now Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage.

I bought a copy of this book early in my academic career of teaching about journalism and journalistic writing, and I have kept it ever since and referred to it often. Fowler is insightful and often wry, and the entries — long or short — are always fun to read.

If you have one book on your shelf about the language, Fowler should be the one.

Giveaways

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

BookFunnel November MysteriesKill the Quarterback is included in this one, too. There are some great new mysteries here that you will want to check out. The giveaway runs through Nov. 20, so don’t wait. Head over there today, and see what you want to put on your shelf. https://books.bookfunnel.com/novembermysteries/iygwd1dtrg

The winner of the Amazon gift card contest from last week’s newsletter is Linny Marcus. Congrats Linny!

More from The Devil’s Dictionary

More entries from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, these from the letter J:

J is a consonant in English, but some nations use it as a vowel— than which nothing could be more absurd. Its original form, which has been but slightly modified, was that of the tail of a subdued dog, and it was not a letter but a character, standing for a Latin verb, jacere, “to throw,” because when a stone is thrown at a dog the dog’s tail assumes that shape. This is the origin of the letter, as expounded by the renowned Dr. Jocolpus Bumer, of the University of Belgrade, who established his conclusions on the subject in a work of three quarto volumes and committed suicide on being reminded that the j in the Roman alphabet had originally no curl.

JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.

JEWS-HARP, n. An unmusical instrument, played by holding it fast with the teeth and trying to brush it away with the finger.

JOSS-STICKS, n. Small sticks burned by the Chinese in their pagan tomfoolery, in imitation of certain sacred rites of our holy religion.

JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is a more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.

Bierce was a Civil War combat veteran who became one of the nation’s foremost writers and cynics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I promised to tell you more about Bierce, and that will happen in the near future. You can get a free copy of The Devil’s Dictionary in a variety of formats through Project Gutenberg.

Finally . . .

Watercolor of the week: The fiddle player


This watercolor is based on a photograph taken by Doris Ulman. A New Yorker by birth, Ulman was a professional photographer who came to the Southern Appalachians because of her fascination with the people and their culture. She is an important figure not only in the history of photography and photojournalism but also in documenting the lives and ways of the area around the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

I’ll have more to say about the Smokies in subsequent newsletters.

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

 


Reviews:

5-star review: I this book in exchange for an unbiased review. I loved this book! Its plot and characters are quite realistic. Having been a high school teacher I felt the voices of the teens were correctly written. It is a great read!

Kill the Quarterback

5-star review: I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book. Wow. This is the first book I’ve read by this author. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I thought I would read a few pages and then bam! I was hooked! Excellent writing. Excellent story. I could not figure out whodunit and that’s the best kind of mystery. I can’t wait until the next book comes out!

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Another reader on free expression; Anger as temporary madness

This newsletter was sent to all those on Jim’s newsletter list (3,873) on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Hi, 

Where did English come from? The origins of English are many and varied. If you don’t know much about it, there’s a great sub-five-minute video from Open Culture embedded at the top of the JPROF.com website.The Origins of English

Gardening is a year-round activity: I spent a couple of hours on my tractor on Thursday afternoon sub-soiling the garden. A subsoiler digs deeply into the ground, much deeper than a plow. The purpose is to turn over a lot of dirt and create deep furrows. The rains and snows of winter will freeze and thaw repeatedly inside these furrows, and by spring the soil will not have as many clumps and will be easier to till and plant.

Do not forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. These and many other disasters mean that people need our help. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org) is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Another reader’s take on the First Amendment and free expression

A couple of weeks ago I asked for your thoughts about the First Amendment and free expression and any of the current controversies related to these ideas. I have continued to get responses on this important topic. The latest was this week from Jim S. He says, in part:

. . . I believe in free speech. Chaos is not free speech. I also believe in the freedom to attend and listen or to not attend.

If an opposing point needs to be presented, let that be set up and let the dialog go forward in an orderly manner with each side showing the respect of allowing the opposite side to fully present (without dominating the time) their position.

If a demonstration is needed, a large demonstration in front of city hall will usually draw TV and other news coverage. Is this effective? Here is a piece from scripture that seems applicable.

“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” Luke 18:2-5 (NASB)

Yelling and screaming to block another person’s free speech is NOT free speech in any context of the phrase. Neither is violence. . . .

 

Jim’s entire statement is found below the signature of this email.

Other thoughts? I find the different thoughts and points of view fascinating, so please share them.

Something to think about: Anger as temporary madness

I ran across an interesting article a couple of weeks ago by Massimo Pigliucci, a philosophy professor, on how the Stoics of ancient Greece viewed and dealt with anger.

Seneca thought that anger is a temporary madness, and that even when justified, we should never act on the basis of it because, though ‘other vices affect our judgment, anger affects our sanity: others come in mild attacks and grow unnoticed, but men’s minds plunge abruptly into anger. … Its intensity is in no way regulated by its origin: for it rises to the greatest heights from the most trivial beginnings.’

I have been thinking a lot about that — and the entire article — since reading it. Take a couple of minutes to read it yourself.

James Callan: Where do ideas come from? Everywhere

Last week I included a bit about James Callan, an independent author, and a blog post on JPROF.com about where he gets his idea. Here’s another excerpt from that post.

A few years back, a number of church burnings occurred in east Texas. When they finally caught the two arsonists, the only reason given was, “Could we get away with it?” As I thought about it over a year, I just couldn’t imagine someone burning down buildings for no reason. What could be a reason? And that became Cleansed by Fire, where churches were burned. But there was a reason.

That’s just a part of my interview. Jim has lots of interesting things to say about his books. You can read the entire interview on JPROF.com.

Cleansed by Fire, Over My Dead Body, A Ton of Gold, A Silver Medallion, and other books by James R. Callan can be viewed on his Amazon Author page: http://amzn.to/1eeykvG or by visiting his website:http://www.jamesrcallan.com

Giveaways

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

More from The Devil’s Dictionary

I have been having a lot of fun reading and selecting entries from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, a book you should know more about. Here are a few more:

WEDDING, n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.

SAINT, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. The Duchess of Orleans relates that the irreverent old calumniator, Marshal Villeroi, who in his youth had known St. Francis de Sales, said, on hearing him called saint: “I am delighted to hear that Monsieur de Sales is a saint. He was fond of saying indelicate things, and used to cheat at cards. In other respects he was a perfect gentleman, though a fool.”

SACRAMENT, n. A solemn religious ceremony to which several degrees of authority and significance are attached. Rome has seven sacraments, but the Protestant churches, being less prosperous, feel that they can afford only two, and these of inferior sanctity. Some of the smaller sects have no sacraments at all—for which mean economy they will indubitably be damned.

POSTERITY, n. An appellate court which reverses the judgment of a popular author’s contemporaries, the appellant being his obscure competitor.

Bierce was a Civil War combat veteran who became one of the nation’s foremost writers and cynics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I promised to tell you more about Bierce, and that will happen in the near future. You can get a free copy of The Devil’s Dictionary in a variety of formats through Project Gutenberg.

Finally . . .

A friend asked that I do a painting of the farmhouse where her husband grew up. The house is gone, and there are no good pictures. She had a picture that gave me some information and said there was a road leading down to the house. I took it from there, and this is what I came up with.

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

Statement by reader Jim S. on the First Amendment and free expression:

Free Speech

Jim, I started to respond to your enquiry about opinions on free speech. I found myself so wound around the axle that, what I wrote did not need to be sent. I became so emotionally involved that it became unworthy to be placed in public view.

Now, some may think what I just said is blathering and unnecessary. But, I imagine, and this is borne out by many I see yelling and screaming on the news, that many others have found themselves in that same position and need to calm down before they present.

I will do my best to put that aside because it does not add anything to a good understanding.

I believe in free speech. Chaos is not free speech. I also believe in the freedom to attend and listen or to not attend.

If an opposing point needs to be presented, let that be set up and let the dialog go forward in an orderly manner with each side showing the respect of allowing the opposite side to fully present (without dominating the time) their position.

If a demonstration is needed, a large demonstration in front of city hall will usually draw TV and other news coverage. Is this effective? Here is a piece from scripture that seems applicable.

“In a certain city there was a judge who did not fear God and did not respect man. 3 There was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ 4 For a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, otherwise by continually coming she will wear me out.’” Luke 18:2-5 (NASB)

Yelling and screaming to block another person’s free speech is NOT free speech in any context of the phrase. Neither is violence.

As to listening, there is a principle that applies, not just to me but to all of us. I hold some of my beliefs much stronger than others. For the beliefs I hold strongest, I will only listen to the different point of view if the other person is willing to listen to my position.

My belief in Jesus as the Christ, the anointed one of God, is my primary belief. I believe he lived, I believe he died on a cruel Roman stake, and I believe he rose to life in power and I believe he lives today. I have had many evidences, enough to strongly believe all those elements are true. My hold on those points is very strong. I would only listen to an opposing view if that person would listen to my evidence.

I do not insist that you believe as I do. However, I know in my heart that you would be in a better position if you did and I can and will wish that you did. I do insist that you have the freedom to choose what I believe or to choose something else. That’s a significant part of free speech.

For those beliefs I hold less strong, I am willing to hear another side if it is presented in a thought out, reasoned manner. There may be areas of agreement and I may find a different way to think about things.

On the other hand, if an argument is presented, with screaming and yelling as its most persuasive points, I am not so interested. If a position is presented based on untruths, I really don’t want to hear it and I will turn it off, even if the person may have some valid points.

For example, the group that has the rallying cry, “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” probably has valid points to address. But I can’t get passed their cry based on a non-occurrence. I just can’t get passed the lie to hear any valid complaint.

Another example is when people intentionally kneel or sit while the national anthem is played.

First consider, why do we stand when the anthem is played? This is to honor our country, our flag and the privilege of being a part of America. When people who are able to stand during this brief time, choose to kneel or sit, what other conclusion can I come to but that they choose to dishonor our flag, our country and the privilege of being a citizen? For someone to say that was not what they were saying just does not ring true.

If they chose a different mode to present their point (and I believe many are available), I would be more likely to listen. As it is, I have made the choice to watch less TV on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays, and I am not likely to return to watching those events (I realize I am a small drop in the bucket.)

This is my two cents, and, I believe, worth every penny.

Thanks for the opportunity Jim.

Blessings, Jim Stow

4-star review: You have to love a female lead character set in the sixties whose storyline isn’t about getting knocked up or becoming a drug addict in an abusive relationship, this may well be a first for a YA female in a story set in the the 60s or 70s, a rarity for any historic setting unfortunately.
A good story with a strong female lead.

Kill the Quarterback

5-star review: An excellent book with building suspense that makes it hard to put down even for a little while. The characters are fresh and nicely developed with some gentle humour.

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Readers respond with their best reads of the summer; A superb collection of mystery/thrillers for 99 cents

This newsletter was sent to the subscribers (3,582) to Jim’s email list on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017.

Hi, 

Don’t forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Many people are suffering now that the storms have passed. My favorite charity is the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org). Please make a contribution to yours.

I am privileged to be corresponding with so many people like you who love reading. Last week we celebrated International Literacy Day. It’s worth mentioning again. Reading is fundamental to any improvement in life. Too many people can’t read, and there are things we could do to help.

The September sale goes on for one final week. Check out the list below the signature of this email for some great bargains.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

Best book of the summer? Readers respond

Last week I asked you to let me know what is the best book you have read over the last few months. Here are a few of the responses:

Karen: My favorite book this summer was Chasing Someday by Lindzee Armstrong. It is a story about 4 couples and issues they faced involving fertility issues. This book is different from the books the author usually writes (and they are great, too!), but this once tugged at my heart and a few tears fell. I highly recommend it.

MikeShe Can Run by Melinda Leigh. It is a mystery book loaded with suspense. The character development was excellent. You really got to know the key characters and wanted to help the main character stay safe. You feared for her not just like it was all real – but more like it was all real and involved you own sister. It had a few nice twists and turns just to keep you guessing. And, best of all, in the end all turned out A-OK! I hate books with a bad ending or an ending that leaves you wondering exactly how things all turned out.

Ian: My favourite this summer has been The Day That Never Comes by Caimh McDonnell. It is about a retired cop who was a law unto himself on the job and is now a P.I. and just a roguish. He is investigating corruption in the local council. Funny and gripping.

So, what do you remember as the best book you have read in the past few months? Reply to this email with author, title and short description or reasons you liked it. I’ll pick a few for the newsletter and put all of them on the website. For those who participate, I’ll make a random choice and send the winner a hand-turned wooden pen like the ones I gave out for the August forwarding contest.

More responses next week.

Murder and Mayhem boxed set: A great collection for only 99 cents
My friend and author Pamela Crane has her book in a great collection along with 19 other authors. The whole collection is just 99 cents. You can read more about it herehttps://www.nathanmfarrugia.com/murderandmayhem/
And here’s the blurb: Evil lurks in broad daylight. Conspiracies play out in the shadows. Nowhere is safe. And these 20 new, exclusive pulse-pounding mysteries and thrillers won’t let you forget it. This unbeatable lineup of stories will spike your heart rate and blow your senses with thousands of pages of clever crimes, devastating murders, heart-pounding mystery, and psychological twists. From tales of spies and espionage to small-town mysteries and traditional courtroom thrillers to hard-boiled noir, this collection offers a cross-section of modern thriller and mystery.
 
Forwarding contest again in September
We had excellent participation in our forwarding contest in August, so I’m doing it again in September. Forward my newsletter to a friend (or many friends), and include my email address when you forward it, so I will have a record of it. The more time you forward the email, the more chances you have to win. You can find the general rules here on JPROF.com.

Giveaways

Books and More Club multi-prize contest. I joined this club to give you an excellent opportunity to win some great prizes. The big one is an Amazon Kindle Fire. Then there are two $25 Amazon gift cards, two $10 Amazon gift cards, and four $5 Amazon gift cards. All you have to do is sign up here: https://www.booksandmore.club/ This contest runs until Oct. 8.

Instafreebie Giveaway: Mystery, Thriller, Suspensehttps://www.butterflypublishings.com/copy-of-featured-giveaway

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries. https://theprolificreader.com/mystery/

Author Janet Pywell: Masterpiece

Another author I’ve met online is Janet Pywell, who writes mysteries set in the rarified world of art and culture. The first of her series, Masterpiece, carries this description: Mikky dos Santos is brilliant, idiosyncratic and loves to break the rules. She is planning the heist of her life. But when opera diva Josephine Lavelle appears on the scene her plans start to unravel. An investigative journalist is intent on uncovering secrets but Mikky faces a far greater threat from an unexpected source. She stands to lose everything, including her life…

You can download a free copy of Masterpiece here: 
http://www.subscribepage.com/janetpywell

A Whiff of Walnut, the story continues

This week, two more chapters of the novella, A Whiff of Walnut. Max gets good news, but the puzzle gets more complicated.

Chapters 1-6 (pdf)

Maxine Wayman and Woody Harper are best friends and seniors at Trinity Lane High School, class of 1967, in Nashville. Maxine a budding journalist is assigned to write a story on a former school secretary, Miss Lizzie, who has recently passed away. Maxine finds the assignment more complicated than she first realized.

Max and Woody are the main characters in the young adult novel, Point Spread.

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim

Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

September sale

These titles have been marked down for a special sale that will run through at least the second week in September. Here’s a chance for some real bargains, so don’t wait.

Point Spread ($2.99 ebook; 10.99 print). Save $2 on the ebook, $2 on the print edition. 

Writing Like a Journalist ($3.99 ebook) Save $1 on the ebook.

Battlelines: Gettysburg, Day 1 ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) Save $1 on the ebook, $3 on the print edition. 

The Writing Wright (volume 1) ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) This eclectic mix of wit, wisdom, essays, quotations and delightful pen-and-ink drawings is a must for anyone interested in writers or the writing life. Save $1 on the ebook, $1 on the print edition.

Battlelines: Gettysburg, Day 2 ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) Save $1 on the ebook, $3 on the print edition. 

Don’t miss these titles while they are now on sale. Prices will go up at the end of the month.

September sale begins now; Max and Woody are back

This newsletter was sent to Jim’s email list (3,070) on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017.

East Tennessee survived the eclipse. So did the rest of the world. Glad you’re still here.

September sale

These titles have been marked down for a special sale that will run through at least the second week in September. Here’s a chance for some real bargains, so don’t wait.

Point Spread ($2.99 ebook; 10.99 print). Save $2 on the ebook, $2 on the print edition. 

Writing Like a Journalist ($3.99 ebook) Save $1 on the ebook.

Battlelines: Gettysburg, Day 1 ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) Save $1 on the ebook, $3 on the print edition. 

The Writing Wright (volume 1) ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) This eclectic mix of wit, wisdom, essays, quotations and delightful pen-and-ink drawings is a must for anyone interested in writers or the writing life. Save $1 on the ebook, $1 on the print edition.

Battlelines: Gettysburg, Day 2 ($1.99 ebook; $5.99 print) Save $1 on the ebook, $3 on the print edition. 

Don’t miss these titles while they are now on sale. Prices will go up at the end of the month.

Max and Woody are back

It’s 1966, and Max and Woody are seniors at Trinity Lane High School in Nashville. Maxine Wayman wants to be a journalist. Woodrow Lee Harper III is a math genius. They have been best friends since before the first grade. They were the main characters in my young adult novel Point Spread.

Now they are back in a novella, tentatively titled A Whiff of Walnut.

Maxine is assigned to write the obituary story on the former school secretary, Miss Lizzie, for the school newspaper. Max and Miss Lizzie were special friends, and the assignment is not as simple or as easy as it sounds.

Read chapters 1 and 2 this week. More next week.

Note to readers: This is a draft, so you may find some typos. If you do, let me know. And, of course, I would welcome any thoughts you have about the story.

Giveaways

The BookFunnel Mystery Giveaway promotion begins officially tomorrow, but you can head over there right now: https://books.bookfunnel.com/free_mystery/iygwd1dtrg. This is an excellent giveaway, and the folks at BookFunnel will do everything they can to help you get your book onto your ereader.

Instafreebie Giveaway: Mystery, Thriller, Suspensehttps://www.butterflypublishings.com/copy-of-featured-giveaway

Forward this email to a friend (the contest ends this week)

This is the last chance to enter the August forwarding contest and win one of the hand-turned wood pens pictured her. Forward this email to a friend (or as many friends as you want) and include my email address at the same time. That way, I can have a record of it. The more times you forward the email, the more chances you have to win.

The August winners will be announced next week.

More information about the contest is here: http://www.jprof.com/2017/07/26/contest-pens

August: A good month for reviews of Kill the Quarterback

I am immodestly proud and sincerely humbled because of what reviewers have said about Kill the Quarterback in August. See below the signature of this email.

Another short story from Virginia King

Virginia King is an Australian author I have been doing some promotion with. I introduced you to her last week with the short story, Laying Ghosts, which you can download (free) here: http://www.selkiemoon.com/. Here’s another short story by Virginia, On the Spooky Trail, which you can get on Amazon for free.

From the JPROF.com blog

Find out why the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., is named after someone who was not an American and who never set foot on this continent. And read a poem about being a newspaperman in the 1880s.

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim


Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

What reviewers in August said about Kill the Quarterback

Take a big football hero and mix in the Asian community and you have the basis for a good story. Then, add in the intrigue of a newspaper office with positions at stake and most of us will be hooked. Kill the Quarterback has all these, and more. Oh yes, some of it is predictable. But, then just as you think you know something, you get slapped with a new twist. Mr. Stovall has done an excellent job in creating mystery and suspense. It’s clear he knows the newspaper business. I recommend this book, and await his next mystery.

***

I certainly stepped outside of the box reading Kill the Quarterback. Overall, reading the book reminded me of watching an old black and white Humphrey Bogart movie where he narrates in first person. Given that, the author of Killing the Quarterback has done an excellent job re-creating that imagery through rich dialogue that is embedded between and within the characters. The depth and layering of the descriptive’s allow the reader to see, touch, smell as if they were a part of the story is instrumental in the overall experience. There were times when I was lamenting the story becoming tedious in getting to unveiling who the killer was, but then other times I became so caught up in the character involvement and narrative that I wasn’t thinking of when will the killer be unveiled. I would say that the back and forth can be a sign of a good book, but also a delicate balancing act which had me conflicted while reading, yet caught off guard by the killer’s identity at the end. In fact, I read the last chapter three times to understand not only who the killer was but why. (NOTE: I received a free advanced copy of the book to read in exchange for providing an honest review). I would RECOMMEND Kill The Quarterback as your next read. –Tex.

***

I read a lot of crime fiction novels, only occasionally do I come across one the caliber of Jim Stovall’s “Kill the Quarterback”. Fast moving right from the start. Exciting plot-line. Colorful characters. The prose is peppered with thought provoking analogies and commentary from the protagonist Mitchell Sawyer, a few examples: “Donnie could be as comforting as a prescription drug commercial and just as deceptive…”; “..the rain pelted my windshield hard, as if the water were angry at the glass for its mere existence”; “a whistle-less freight train on a dark night couldn’t have hit me any harder than the impact I felt from what she just said” and my favorite Mitch speaking about Dr Klein, the police pathologist: “Most of what medical school is about is learning how to talk to civilians with a straight face in a language they won’t understand and making them feel inadequate because of it. Klein had learned his lessons well”.

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A riveting one-hour read (free); Max and Woody are back

This newsletter was sent to all of the people on Jim’s email list (2,539) on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017.

Hi, 

Greetings from East Tennessee. I hope your week has been a good one.

A riveting one-hour read (free, of course)

Virginia King is an Australian author I have been doing some promotion with, and she has produced a riveting short story, Laying Ghosts, that you can download for free. The story is a prequel to a series she is writing. The main character of the series is Selkie Moon, and you are sure to find her interesting. The link to Laying Ghosts is http://www.selkiemoon.com/. A more complete description of the story and a biography of Virginia are below the signature of this email.

Giveaways

The BookFunnel Mystery Giveaway promotion begins officially tomorrow, but you can head over there right now: https://books.bookfunnel.com/free_mystery/iygwd1dtrg. This is an excellent giveaway, and the folks at BookFunnel will do everything they can to help you get your book onto your ereader.

The Prolific Reader Mystery giveaway. This is a terrific giveaway with lots of books in lots of different genres — all free, of course. Here’s the link to the mystery section: https://melanietomlin.com/tpr-freebies/mystery/ .

Max and Woody are back

It’s 1966, and Max and Woody are seniors at Trinity Lane High School in Nashville. Maxine Wayman wants to be a journalist. Woodrow Lee Harper III is a math genius. They have been best friends since before the first grade. They were the main characters in my young adult novel Point Spread. And check below the signature of this email to see what reviewers have said about Point Spread.)

Now they are back with a new adventure in a novella, tentatively titled A Whiff of Walnut. Beginning next week, I will post successive parts of this novella as attachments to this newsletter. I hope that you will read it and let me know what you think.

Forward this email to a friend (the contest continues)

At the end of August, I will give away these hand-turned, wooden pens to four people who participate in this contest. You can forward each of my Friday newsletters to as many of your friends as you want (and be sure to include my email in the forwarding so I can have a record of it). The more times you forward these emails, the more chances you have to win a pen. Do this now. You have just this week and next week to participate. And if you have already done this, you can do it again.

More information about the contest is here: http://www.jprof.com/2017/07/26/contest-pens/

The Writing Wright (volume 1)

The Writing Wright (volume 1) is now available on Amazon. But DO NOTpay $1.99 (or $6.99, unless you want a print copy). Instead, download it free from this email with the link below. The Writing Wright (volume 1) is an eclectic mix of ideas, information, quotations, instruction, wisdom, and stories about writing and the writing life. It’s also forum to impose some of my pen-and-ink and watercolor renderings on unsuspecting readers.

The_Writing_Wright_1-print.pdf

Keep reading and have a great weekend.

Jim


Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

The_Writing_Wright_1-print.pdf

Last week’s newsletter

Laying Ghosts by Virginia King

Description of Laying Ghosts: When a text message from a long lost friend lures Selkie Moon to a deserted beach house, the chilling events from a house-party four years earlier wrap her in ghostly fingers and turn her life upside-down. Content warning: occasional coarse language, adult themes (no erotica)

Biography: In her mystery series, Virginia King mixes her love of travel, psychology and folklore. Selkie Moon is a modern thirty-something seminar presenter who explores far-flung places full of secrets, and delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology. Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband and two pet alpacas.

Get you free copy of this short story at http://www.selkiemoon.com/.

What reviewers have said about Point Spread

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It held my attention, and the plot unfolded bit by bit, keeping me guessing about what was coming next throughout nearly the entire novel. There were some surprises. My first surprise was that protagonist of the story is a teenage girl. How in the world could the author, a middle-aged man, possibly present a believable character, having never bee a teenage girl himself? Again I was surprised – he nailed it.

***

Jim Stovall once again displays his considerable talent for storytelling. High school student Maxine Wayman is scrounging for a story to demonstrate she deserves a journalism scholarship when she stumbles across a gambling scheme surrounding the Trinity Lane High School basketball team in Nashville. The plot incorporates threads of journalism, 1960s-era divisions over the Vietnam war, and a teenager coming of age in a broken family. Stovall does a fine job of taking readers through some surprising turns, though Maxine’s ability to negotiate the adult world is at times a bit of a stretch. Still, it’s a story that’s engaging until the end.

***

Jim Stovall pulled off making his teen female main character believable and likable. It was great fun, getting to know Maxine and I hope to find her in future books. She was both sleuth and writer as she looked for her big story. Max carries the reader along on an enjoyable but at times scary adventure. I loved the East Nashville setting and recognized many places, past and present. And, now I know what Point Spread means.

(Haven’t read it? Get it here on Amazon.) 

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Reviews, they always help; Battlelines: the complete Gettysburg

Jim Stovall’s email newsletter for July 14, 2017

Hi there,

I hope you’ve had a good week and are looking forward to the weekend.

Reviews

Writers always want people to read their books, and they want their readers to love what they read. But what the writer needs is honesty. That’s why I alway suggest that folks who’ve read my work leave honest reviews, not just reviews.

Kill the Quarterback got an honest review this week, and I appreciate it very much. The reviewer wrote:

This was a nice first effort. Fast paced with short, choppy sentences enabling the reader to speed through the pages. There was a definite knowledge of someone who had worked in the newspaper business, but less knowledge of police procedures.

Then the reviewer goes on to list some criticisms of the book. You can read the entire review here.

If you have read Kill the Quarterback or Point Spread, please do consider leaving a review — an honest review, of course.

Favorite mystery/thriller author

I continue getting responses to my question: Who’s your favorite mystery/thriller author?

Charles (my old college friend): James Lee Burke‘s novels featuring Detective Dave Robicheaux, and Walter Mosley‘s novels featuring private investigator Easy Rawlins. I’ve read them all, and they occupy special places on my bookshelves. Burke’s Robicheaux is a deeply flawed, but intensely human character whose inability to walk away from the task of shouldering the weight of the world leaves him vulnerable to those who would do harm to him and to those he loves. Mosley’s Rawlins is a study in how to take the world as one finds it and to deal with it, managing to emerge from tight situations with his soul intact. I can’t get enough of either character.

Jane: James Patterson and John Grisham.

Michael: John T. Lescroart and James Lee Burke. Holding out hope that you will end up on my list.

Battlelines

All five volumes of the Civil War combat art series Battlelines are now available on Amazon and elsewhere in both digital and paperback versions. That’s taken up most of my week, but at least it’s done. Amazon, for reasons unknown to me, thinks it’s a three-volume set rather than five, and they have set up a special page for those three books. I’m not sure how to go about correcting that, but it’s nice that they’re paying some attention to the books.

Here’s a minute-and-a-half YouTube video that introduces the series.

The first volume, Battlelines: Road to Gettysburg, is free on Amazon. The second volume, Battlelines: Gettysburg, Day 1, can be downloaded at this link for free.

Now that Gettysburg has been taken care of, I am at work on a volume of the drawings of the battle of Antietam. After that, Fredericksburg.

On the farm . . .

Corn and beans have been harvested and put up. We continue to gather peppers, potatoes, okra, cucumbers, onions, and tomatoes. I also spent a good part of the week sawing up a neighbor’s silver-leaf poplars that were blown over by the storm a few weeks ago. Lots of fun.

Have a great weekend.

Jim


Jim Stovall
www.jprof.com

Revelations by scholastic journalists come by just ‘looking it up’

“You can look it up.”

If you remember anything about baseball in the 1950s (and fewer and fewer of us do), you would remember Casey Stengel’s famous conclusion to almost all of his long soliloquies to surrounding newsmen. Stengel was the manager of the New York Yankees, and his teams won pennant after pennant in those years.

Casey Stengel

Stengel was a master at circumlocution. (You can look that up.)

He would often offer long involved answers to the simplest of questions. His flights of verbosity soared above Yankee Stadium until everyone lost sight of what the original question was. Then, to allay the skepticism of the journalists, he would conclude with the words:

“You can look it up.”

Stengel’s famous words came to mind when I read the story a couple of weeks ago in the Washington Post (and reported by many other news organizations) that a group of high school journalists in Pittsburg, Kansas had forced the resignation of their new principal because they found that she had apparently questionable credentials for the job.
Source: These high school journalists investigated a new principal’s credentials. Days later, she resigned. – The Washington Post

How did they do this?

Well, they looked her up.

According to the Post story, several students began checking up on the credentials presented by the new principal.

In the Booster Redux (their newspaper) article, a team of six students — five juniors and one senior — revealed that Corllins had been portrayed in a number of articles as a diploma mill, a place where people can buy a degree, diploma or certificates. Corllins is not accredited by the U.S. Department of Education, the students reported. The Better Business Bureau’s website says Corllins’s physical address is unknown and the school isn’t a BBB-accredited institution.

“All of this was completely overlooked,” Balthazor (one of the students) said. “All of the shining reviews did not have these crucial pieces of information … you would expect your authority figures to find this.” (quoted material)

According to the students, the information wasn’t that hard to find. All they did, as Stengel would have advised, was look it up.

***

Point Spread by Jim Stovall

All of this relates, at least tangentially, to my next novel, Point Spread, which will be available soon (May 31 on Kindle, sooner in print).

It’s the story of Maxine Wayman, a high school senior at Trinity Lane High School in Nashville. The story is set in 1967 against the backdrop of the war in Vietnam.

Maxine finds a story that will rock the foundations of her school — and possibly endanger her life.

The digital version of the novel is currently available for pre-order here on Amazon.

The print version can be found here on CreateSpace.