Sunday, October 26, 2014


By Kimberly Johnson

Last Saturday afternoon I closed the last chapter on William Broad’s defiant Dancing With Myself. This dude was The Man. For those who listened to the FM dial in the ‘80s know I am talking about Billy Idol. Idol’s rock god status is cemented with iconic tunes such as “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding” and “Eyes Without A Face.” I watched him on MTV. I danced with myself. I recommend checking out his autobiography today.

I see Idol as a free-will poet, someone who used unpretentious literary devices to express the English punk scene angst of the ‘70s. Poems layer on imagery, word association and musicality to get the point across.

His rock-hard spiky blond locks, scowling sneer and tight leather pants lured me to the TV screen. Yet, it was his poet-like elegance that got me to memorize his edgy chants. To the haters, here’s why he’s a rock and roll bard: He uses repetition and imagery.

Exhibit A: Eyes Without A Face (I still don’t know what this means.)
Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face Les yeux sans visage eyes without a face Got no human grace your eyes without a face.

He uses POV to tell the story. In this 1983 song, Idol narrates.

Exhibit B: White Wedding (In the book, Idol says this is about a shotgun wedding for his sister.)
Hey little sister what have you doneHey little sister who's the only oneHey little sister who's your supermanHey little sister who's the one you want
Hey little sister shotgun

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oaxaca Film Festival – Day One

By Laura P. Valtorta

Oaxaca, Mexico, October 8, 2014. There are hundreds of film festivals open to Americans these days. The Oaxaca Film Festival, in the mountains of central Mexico, is one of the best. I came here because my feature-length screenplay, Bermuda, was accepted. I arrived in town two days late. Today, alone, I was given the opportunity to pitch my screenplay four times, once in front of an audience (filmed pitch) and three times before studio executives who actually have money to make films. That, for me, makes this a successful festival. The last producer asked for additional material. All four pitch sessions allowed me time to practice telling my story.

Everyone I spoke to today was interested to hear that the stage play version of this story was produced and directed this August in Columbia, SC by LeaSharn Hopkins, of New Life Productions. This is very much a South Carolina story, as well as a Mexican one.

The Oaxaca Film Festival is now in its fifth year. It strikes a fine balance between English speakers and Spanish speakers. Every session I’ve attended has accommodated both languages. Unfortunately I don’t speak any Spanish, but every presenter at the festival speaks good English. They also recognize that my name is Italian. They are good fellow Latins.

The atmosphere here is international Last night I saw two excellent independent films: a feature set in Mexico City (lLos Banistas), and a short filmed in Quebec. 

I noticed that the Oaxacan attitude is laid back. When Oaxacans speak English, they use a ton of good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon swear words.

Filmmakers can enter the Oaxaca Film Festival using Film Freeway.

The day ended with a peaceful demonstration in the city center regarding those students who were apparently killed by police near Oaxaca. Many people marched. The police were there with machine guns. We were locked out of the festival for 20 minutes until the demonstration passed.

Afterwards, I noticed that the police tore down posters of the dead students that the marchers had pasted on the walls along the sidewalks.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


By Bonnie Stanard

Just when I thought I had some idea of point of view (POV), I read a story that has me scratching my head. I can hear groans coming from Columbia II writers. Oh no, here she goes again. Bonnie’s obsessed. Hasn’t enough been written about POV already?

Yes, but I have a footnote, and I’ll try to get to it.

For clarity’s sake, we writers stick to one POV for any given scene (or chapter or novel). Take a look at the excerpts below taken from a short story I read recently. What is the POV?
He felt no floor under his feet
He aims for me to lie, he thought, again with that frantic grief and despair.
He’s coming down the stairs now, he thought.

The information here is filtered through one person (in this case a boy). My first reaction is that it’s third limited POV, for we know what the boy is thinking and feeling. We’re given his interior monologues. However, if third limited POV, we should be limited to whatever he sees, hears, or knows.

Intermixed with the above sentences are others like these:
[had the boy been] Older he might have remarked this and wondered….
But he did not think this now.
[an expression of] amazed disbelief which the boy could not have known was…
he did not know it was midnight…

Isn’t this omniscient? This is where I’m scratching my head. The story is being told from the boy’s point of view, so why is the omniscient narrator sticking his nose into the story to tell us things the boy can’t or doesn’t know? Has this author mixed third limited with omniscient POV within a given text?

You might expect the writing to be unclear if not pedestrian, but it’s not. And in the hands of an author of less ability than William Faulkner, it might well have been. The way I read this is that it’s omniscient in spite of the interior monologue. It’s not actually the boy telling the story. It’s the god-like narrator, who knows the boy’s thoughts and quotes them as the plot progresses. This departs from our conventional understanding of POV. Only a professional like Faulkner can make something like this work. These excerpts are taken from his short story “Barn Burning,” and you can find the complete text at the website below.*

There’s a quote which goes something like this—Know the rules so you can break them. Of those creative writers who take chances (i.e., break the rules), some are rewarded by critics with labels such as “innovative” or “original.” Failing that, some are labeled as “confusing” or “slipshod.” Some day, I hope I’ll know enough about writing that I’ll be able to mess with the rules in a way that isn’t an embarrassing exhibition of ignorance.

* (a note: this publication has dropped the italics that appear in other published copies of this story.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Conferences For Writers

By Mike Long 

I joined Western Writers of America (WWA) in 2010, shortly after publishing No Good Like It Is through Createspace. Mary and I attended our first WWA conference that year in Knoxville.

I did more talking than listening, but I did meet a fellow and told him I was working on a sequel. He took my first book and later asked if his sister's company, Goldminds Publishing, could publish the sequel. We came up with a contract and Dog Soldier Moon was produced in late 2010. As part of the deal I received 2000 copies at a very low price; Goldminds wanted 3000 copies for their use. The combined run gave us both a nice savings in cost from the offshore printer. Goldminds also did a second run of my first novel at the same price. Sales of those novels have now exceeded 4000 each.

In 2011 and 2012, we attended WWA conferences in Bismarck, ND and Albuquerque, NM. We vacationed a lot, and I networked a little. In 2013, the conference was in Las Vegas, NM, and I finally knew enough folks to really network. I met Mike Harris who owns La Frontera Publishing, as well as Brett Cogburn (Rooster's great-grandson), who won the SPUR Award that year for Best First Novel. Both were looking for short stories for upcoming anthologies. Mike Harris has now published my story, “The Resurrection,” in this year's anthology Broken Promises.

Brett wanted a story for an anthology he was working on with Louella Turner, co-owner of High Hill Press. “Choteau's Crossing” was the result, and Lou Turner published it this year in Rough Country. Brett also introduced me to Lou and got her to look at the third book in my trilogy, Higher Ground.

This year's conference was in Sacramento, CA, and “Choteau's Crossing” took second place in the SPUR Awards. Lou Turner and Brett asked for more short stories; I've submitted three more so far. Lou also announced that she'll release Higher Ground in October at the Ozarks Creative Writers (OCW) conference, Eureka Springs, AR. Brett asked for another Western novel (unrelated to the trilogy) to show to a NY publisher at OCW. It's a first-person POV, working title, Brodie. I submitted it last week. We'll see how that goes.

Brett also introduced me to Tiffany Schofield of Five Star Press in Sacramento. She looked at my trilogy and has agreed to publish it in hard-cover large-print versions for library sales. I'll receive an advance of $750 for each novel, plus 10% of sales.

The 2015 conference will be in Lubbock TX; I will be focused on screenwriting. Conferences? Mikey likes 'em.