Learn from the Best

One of my favorite authors is Howard Bahr, a writer who has taught literature and creative writing at Mississippi and Tennessee colleges and universities. He was curator of the William Faulkner house in Oxford, Mississippi for 20 years, served in the navy, and worked for railroads after his military service. Two of his novels, The Black Flower and Pelican Road, rank among my personal top 25 books. I’ve been fortunate to occasionally correspond with him, and knowing I was an aspiring writer, he sent me the following: “Uncle Howard’s Ten Commandments for his Students Wandering in the Wilderness.” I cannot recommend his writing strongly enough since he one of today’s most moving and sensitive authors.

  1. Thou shalt not be afraid, neither shalt thou be daunted.
  2. Thou shalt take chances.
  3. Thou shalt study the world about thee: he who hath ears, let him hear; he who hath eyes, let him see.
  4. Thou shalt steal liberally from thy neighbors, godly and ungodly alike, and from thy friends and kinsmen: their stories, their sayings, their manner of speech and dress.
  5. Howbeit, thou shalt not steal from thy fellow artists, unless they giveth thee the green light.
  6. Keep holy the writing time, for it is sacred and belongs to thee alone and no other. Likewise, the talent, a precious gift from Providence.
  7. Thou shalt create a world out of the firmament, and lo, it shall be peopled with men and women, with beasts of the field and birds of the air, with trees and houses and gardens with taverns and funeral parlors and automobiles – with all good things that Providence hath shown thee. And thou shalt sublimate this world so that even the most common thing is robed in wonder and light. And this world shalt be real so the reader looketh thereon and say unto thee: Behold, I am with thee, even unto the end of this thou hast made.
  8. And out of the dust of the earth shalt thou create them: men, women, drunks and dope-fiends, tree-huggers and cheerleaders, suckling babes (though not too many), the infirm and the insane, the evil and the good, the ugly and the beautiful, and thou shalt love them all, even as the Good God loves his own. This thou shalt do so that, by the power of thine own love, the Reader will love them too, and say unto thee: I care about these who thou hast made, no matter how humble, for thou hast exalted them.
  9. Remember thou comest not to bring peace, but to stir up the hearts of men with conflict. Thou shalt create all manner of chaos and trouble, for without these, there can be no story.
  10. Honor thy reader.

History Buff?

Stay alert for a great upcoming HBO miniseries by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg based on the marvelous non-fiction book, “Masters of the Air” by Donald I. Miller.  This new series will take you along with 8th Air Force B-17’s over Germany during World War where losses exceeded those of the entire U.S. Marine Corps during the war. 

If you enjoyed “Band of Brothers,” this series will be offered with the same scale and production values, following a cast of characters as they struggle to complete 25 missions. Filmed on location in Great Britain with enhanced modern visuals that take you on missions inside and outside the bombers, the officers’ and enlisted men’s personal experiences are woven into a part of history that’s almost unbelievable.  

If you like history that reads like fiction, you might also want to check out Donald Miller’s book.   Spielberg’s and Hanks’ previous collaborations have shown they’re dedicated to accuracy and a finely-honed sense of drama. They’ve committed a huge cast, budget and resources to this marvelous project that’s tentatively scheduled for release sometime in 2020-2021. You shouldn’t miss it.


2019 Maxy Award Winner

I was fortunate to win this year’s 2019 Maxy Award for Best Mystery-Detective Novel (www.maxyaward.com). Books are chosen in eight categories with awards given to the winners and runners-up. It’s a special honor in that the award not only recognizes achievements in writing, but more importantly, most of the entry proceeds go to assist developmentally challenged children. Check them out and read how it all got started.

New News

My wife and I recently moved to Atlanta Georgia, our original stomping grounds (actually, we moved to Sandy Springs, a northern suburb of this beautiful city,).  Despite the endless hassles associated with moving, it’s good to be home although we’ll miss our Texas friends and I’ll especially miss my Houston critique group.

Coming back to Atlanta brings a strong sense of déjà vu since we’ve both been away for almost 30 (!) years.  Coming home to Georgia ends my corporate wandering that took me to St. Louis, Chicago, and Houston during that time. Each was a pleasure, unique in special ways with new friends, but returning to one’s native state definitely feels like coming home, bringing both of us closer to family and memories.

To top off my return, I’ve joined the Atlanta Writers Club, a 115-year old organization with almost 1,000 members.  I’m in the process of helping form a critique group, believing interaction with other writers is not only a distinct pleasure, but keeps the skills sharpened while helping newcomers with the pleasures and pain of writing.


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