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How’s Life You?

I hope everyone has had a wonderful holiday season. I have. Getting to spend time with my family has been great, and there have been a few things that developed. The most notable is the release of my newest novel, The Great Zero-Sum.

It is always nerve-racking when I release a new book. A lot of my writing friends, pizzos, pals, buddies, chums talk about how uneasy it makes them when they push the fledgling book out of the nest and into the public to see them fly.

It’s because some don’t fly at all, they crash and die. It takes a long time to build enough of a following to launch the right way. Each book needs to go at least as far as the last, and of course, high sales are always welcome but seem to be scarce as the hair on my head.

This new book is an action-adventure, with the main character Colonel A.J. Colton, a battle-hardened, retired Field Artillery Officer who is haunted by the memory of one of his soldiers, Norman. Norman passed away, and none of the team can forget him. Some of the men view him as a genius, others as a buffoon. The Colonel tells them all not to discuss Norman. They all know he was special.

All this while an elusive enemy attacks time and again, following them wherever they go.

I’m proud of the book, and I think those of us who like that genre will find the book a fast, easy read. They will enjoy the action it has between covers. Within its pages live unforgettable characters, several battles, and more than a few plot twists. If you haven’t picked it up, please do. You won’t regret spending the paltry sum. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082MSD5QZ

I have worked on several other projects these past weeks too. My next novel, the second in the Factor series, is now out for approval with several agents. Also, I’m writing two books – one is the third in the Factor series, and I think it is the best yet, the other is my non-fiction premier. It’s working title is “I’ve Been Thinking.” The premise for the non-fiction work is an explanation to my metaphysical view of, well, everything.

This sort of work is quite different for me. I usually don’t do non-fiction for anything longer than my blog. Also, just because I have the capability of writing some of my thoughts down, doesn’t mean what dances around in my head might be of interest to other people. Let’s face it. Nobody knows what goes on inside of other people’s minds, But, and this is a pretty big but (no not that kind of butt), there is no telling if this book will be anything like what most people think. Because of that, it will be interesting if only for opening up the door to laughter and ridicule.

I’m not advocating such cruel behavior. I’m not even indirectly saying that kind of thing is okay. However, I am saying that I know enough about human behavior to be able to foretell the likelihood that there are crazed assholes in every walk of life.

All because someone doesn’t think the way most everyone else does, and I certainly don’t think in lockstep with others.

Here is what is at the crux. Thank heavens (whichever you believe in, or if not one at all, please substitute the word thankfully), some people believe differently than other people. We all think differently, but that is the most likely reason for the whole gamut of ridicule thing. It ranges from mild chiding all the way to hate. all because someone’s beliefs don’t coincide with another’s. That is how most wars begin.

Okay, I’ll get rid of the soapbox and rejoin the blog.

The weather has been a little crazy. How about where you have been? Here it has been unseasonably hot. I have had warmer Christmases, but they were spent in Hawaii, the tropics. Most, however, have been cool to cold, crisp in the least. Hell, snowball fights are always good on Christmas Days. But not this year.

I’m not complaining. We have already had enough cold weather to kill the insects that need controlling. I will be happy if it does not dip below freezing again this winter.

Then last night, we had a large front roll through with terrific rains, winds, and the occasional tornado. Whatever happened, there was a heap of thunder and rain.

The kids have been reasonable during the last few days. I mean, once we made it past Christmas, things settled into the usual ruckus and occasional failed attempts at sibling homicide. There wasn’t much blood, and all the fat lips have gone down now. It’s always exciting around here and not for the faint of heart.

Life is for living.

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The Great Zero-Sum

This month has been so busy so far. I’m talking busy, about as active as a cat chasing a laser light dot. That’s right, and there were times when I was just as fruitful as that damn cat too. It seemed like thousands of things begged a piece of me. I’m sure that’s an exaggeration – perhaps only nine hundred fifty. Let’s say a hell of a lot of alligators trying to bite me on my ass while I tried to drain a swamp.

More than once I felt like the mouse seeing the fierce eagle swooping down with talons ready to grab. But then the mouse had one last act of defiance in him. He stood on his hind legs and stared that giant bird down. Then he flipped his middle finger skyward. He gave the bird the bird.

Anyway, I’ve been busy. And that’s why I have been remiss on putting out my blog.

What I have done is work on the new book – my metaphysical non-fiction. I’m also still working on The Null Factor (the latest in my Factor series). Then there is The Great Zero-Sum, my newest novel. This book took a considerable amount of time. I’m not used to formatting anything; this book consumed the elephant-sized share of my effort. For several days I had to work things out, but after several oh shits, a couple of sons-of-bitches, and one or two strings of obscenities that might irreparably incinerate your ears, I completed the work.

The pain I felt was what it should have been. I mean don’t all births hurt a little? I’ve been in the room during my children’s birth, and it looked to me there was a little bit of frustration, impatience, and a whole lot of pain was there. Okay, my book didn’t cause that kind of pain, but it did become quite the pain in the ass, and I’m glad it’s over.

That is right. The ebook is now available for pre-order, and It’s a good deal. You get to have immeasurable pleasure, reading, imagining, and living vicariously through all the plot twists, the battles, and scenes that make your heart race. You get all of that for $2.99. Great deal, huh. All you need to do is click on this link to get started. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B082MSD5QZ

Another thing is the paperback. Sure it costs a little more. It is $14.99, but there is value in it. First, you can have it in your hot little hands before Christmas if you don’t dilly-dally. That’s one hell of a deal. Second, you get to hold it in your hands and smell that new book smell. There are other things, along with the first two things. Like the ebook, this edition is full of action, adventure, and sex– uh, romance, whatever you want to call it.

one is … no. Already taken. Ow about, excellent writing, or maybe, thrilling read. There are lots of pet names you could use for my book.

Ah, well. If you want the paperback, follow this link.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1674813260?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860

Okay, with all kidding aside. I think you will love The Great Zero-Sum!

I’ll bet you will enjoy it as much as I did before I had to format the damn thing. Author’s privilege to the book pet names. Hey! If you owned one, you, too, could give the book pet names. Something like, oh how about, Good book: uh, no, that one is … no. Already taken. Ow about, excellent writing, or maybe, thrilling read. There are lots of pet names you could use for my book.

Ah, well. If you want the paperback, follow this link.

Okay, with all kidding aside. I think you will love The Great Zero-Sum!

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The Music of Life

When I attended college, I studied music, and they required that I take several years of fundamentals or Western Classical Music Theory. The essential thing was this. Music is a result of organized sound, and sound is a result of vibrations. Music theory itself is the study of how those vibrations make Harmony; how pleasing sounds fit together with harsh and dissonant sounds to create music.

The rules can get complicated. We started by working through the rules that Bach used. Then after months, actually years, we graduated to analyzing the works of the great masters, and what I found in those surprised me. Those great masters broke the rules. We were told never to do a particular kind of musical progression because it weakened the music, but Debussy used them often, and when he did, it made the music translucent and beautiful.

That made no sense.

By the time Stravinsky wrote, the extended dissonance that the theory professors had frowned upon was suddenly how modern music was supposed to sound.

Sometime later, I grew interested in African music, not part of the Western Classical genre. And the way they handled their harmonies violated a whole slew of those rules I spent so long studying. All those broken rules of the theory I’d studied set me to wondering. Why do we have rules of music if they can be broken and still create good music? Could it be that the rules are immaterial as long as there is consistency?

Have you ever noticed that every culture, every civilization, has found a way to make music? Before you point out that the hearing impaired culture doesn’t, let me observe that those of that culture can, and do, take note of vibrations, if not with their ears with their entire bodies.

But now, let’s look at something else. The current top theory of what makes up the Universe is String Theory. The name comes from the fundamental particle, the smallest, most essential piece — a one-dimensional string. And guess what. The strings vibrate, and the vibrations are extremely important because these infinitesimal particles with their quivering make up everything else, which makes everything vibrate. The vacillations create all kinds of things, including…sound. That’s right music; the Universe sings.

I was right. There is consistency in music; everything makes it. That’s why every culture takes part in it. Music is universal, literally. Everything does it. (I don’t usually use the word literally, because people regularly use it the wrong way. in this context, it is correct.)

Yes, everything makes music, and because of that, every culture creates music. It’s a primal urge, so innate that we don’t even notice we do it. How many times have you, or someone close to you, started humming, or whistling, perhaps even singing for no reason at all? Or, how about the times that you had some ludicrous tune bouncing around in your head, and nothing you did could stop it? Music surrounds us.

When I taught music, I gave my general music class an assignment to write down several natural rhythms. These patterns occurred naturally, things like water dropping from the roof onto an air conditioner, or a tree branch scratching the side of the house at odd intervals in a row, or how about the rhythm of a bird’s song. The thing that all of these had in common was they had no human causes; they happened on their own.

There is music everywhere — vibrations of the one-dimensional strings, rumbling thunder, the soft rhythm of a baby snorting while asleep to beautiful strains of a melody in your mind yet to be hummed. The pervasiveness of music is fundamental to my understanding of the Universe.

Music composes the world around us, and the music is so complicated that even our most sensitive machines can’t detect it all. Except we hear it with that innermost part of ourselves as all of nature does. And like nature, we are children of music.

Enjoy the songs of life.

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I Love Writing!

I’ve been watching all the posts on Facebook and Twitter with pictures describing the frustrating life of a writer. I have to say, I can identify with most of the frustrations. Stereotypes have a way of ringing true, even though we hate to have anything reduced to them.

As far as informal classification of writers goes, I’m what is known as a pantster. There are planners and pantsters. Planners work with outlines and such, planning and creating plots in advance for their creative works. Pantsters, on the other hand, write by be the seat of their pants (trite I know). How about we call it making things up as we go along? I don’t depend on pre-planed outlines or work with a map in mind. I caddiewomple. (Great word, isn’t it?) It means I travel purposely toward an as yet unknown destination.

The result of which is this. When I work through the rough draft, I’m excited. I want to find out what my characters will do. I watch the story unfold as the typing proceeds.

The entire draft is a matter of discovery — waiting for things to unfold like a young flower. I watch my fingers create the story.

It sounds almost creepy.

I know I have a good character in the making, or a working ensemble when they start telling me what and how to write. I do love it when that happens. It sounds crazy; maybe this is one of the things that lends credence to the thought that all writers are crazed fools who barely have a grasp on reality. Dunno.

I do know that I have an enormous amount of fun waiting for things to unfold. Pleasure in this spot in itself is not so different from the preponderance of writers. I’m not alone in the enjoyment of the rough draft. We all have fun.

Now please don’t jump to the conclusion that my days are pain-free at this stage. They are not. However, I will say that during the rough draft, my eternal quest for the perfect word is somewhat lessened, but this draft is more for situations, plot, and digging my characters into and out of trouble.

As I said, the bottom line point is this – the rough draft is fun.

After the rough draft comes editing.

Several of my writer friends loathe this part. Editing is the point at which we throw things away and cut stuff out, all because the words don’t quite belong in this particular work. Many writers wail, ululate, and lament how unfair life is that they have to hack away some of their best work. But they must keep in mind the truism, “If life were fair, there would be no surgery.” Hell, I will go even further. If life was fair, I would be six feet tall, devilishly handsome, and have a dimple in my chin. I wouldn’t have grown older either.

But alas, I’m not; not this either; not even a hint of one. And son-of-a-bitch, I did get older. So cutting I must go, yes editing I must go, high ho the dairy oh …

The difference in me, compared to other writers, is this. While it does pain me to scribble and scratch-out the dead passages from my manuscripts, It enthralls me with how my Work In Progress (my WIP) reads once I toss out those words. One of the constants in my world of writing is this: my craft always flows better after I go a few rounds with a professional editor.

Oh. I’m not there yet. I’m still talking about self-editing.

Anyway, during the editing portion, I dive deep, looking for that perfect word. What I love about this part is my WIP takes on more vibrant color and fleshes out more. All this to help the readers envision the things I’ve written. There is a by-product at this stage; I learn new words and increase my vocabulary. Words have always fascinated me. In the next edit, I tie-up lose ends and close any open plot loops.

The last self-edits polish the work, and then it’s ready for me to send off to an agent or professional editor. More magic happens with them. These people are vital to the success of any written project. Their fresh eyes, along with their massive intellect and incredible insight, help me reach the vision I had throughout the project.

After all their fresh eyes dissect it, the work may be ready to publish, and I loved every step in the process.

I am at this point with my next novel, The Great-Zero Sum. I am so close that the cover reveal is going to be this week. I love the cover, and I think you will too. The only people who have seen so far are the designer, Jojo W. Shelly, and I.

So, stand by. Big things are happening – I will reveal the cover and then comes release day.

The Great Zero-Sum Is on the way!

I forgot one thing. Thanks to all of you who clicked the subscribe button. Some of you, however, did not confirm your subscription. If you would click again so the computer can confirm you, it would be fantastic. If you don’t confirm, I can’t send any notifications to you. So remember, Click to subscribe, AND click to confirm.

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Life at our house

Well, breakfast is over, and boy it was about as fun as a kick in the scrotal sack.

Between getting the cereal, eggs, milk, applesauce, mopping spills, and the hunt for silverware, it was exhausting. (The kids lose more flatware than … I think I’ve purchased enough cheap cutlery to outfit an entire college dorm floor for a year.) I can’t leave out the marathon scream from the youngest daughter because she wanted to make sure every person who had ever lived heard her, even if they had been grave bound for centuries. Your ears may even now hear a faint remnant echo of her blood coagulating from the effort she used to produce the scream.

My apologies if the noise perforated any eardrums. I finally had to turn my hearing aids off to pick the tyke up, put her in my bedroom, and close the door. We need a soundproof room where I can stick a child when they turn up the volume like that. It would also be great for me to sit in while I blather about as a result of living in the house with everyone.

I used the wrong word. It should have been everything instead of everyone because we have quite the menagerie. I’ve talked about our animals in other blogs, so let me say we have several animals. And while it can be a challenge to live in this house with so many humans. It is an arduous task for me to live with all of the creatures.

Yesterday the two outside dogs escaped. The pony opened the pasture gate that borders on the front yard. This pony is the one my youngest daughter (see above) thinks of as a disabled unicorn. She loves unicorns and calls this animal her ‘corn. In her mind, since our unicorn does not have a horn, she must be disabled.

But back to the dogs.

When the pony exited the pasture and entered the yard, the dogs did a double reverse and ran out into the field, and gone! Yeah, that’s right. Gone. The oldest one has a history of running away, and when he returned the last time he had a crushed rear leg. That injury sidelined him for months, almost a half year. If we’d have known how long it would take, and what he would have had to live through to heal, we would’ve put him down. It would have been kinder.

The fear of duplicating what happened then is real.

Here’s where I’m going. During the search for the missing dogs, the kids and wife stumbled across a neighbor who had a litter of weaned puppies ready to be separated from their mother. The result of that is now, I have another dog.

Have you read the Clifford books, the ones about the gigantic red dog? This new puppy is white, not red. However, this pup will grow into a colossus of a dog. I’m talking roughly about a large one of those Saint Bernards that have a keg of brandy you might remember seeing in an old cartoon. She is not a Saint Bernard, but she will be that large. No, I’m not happy about that. Well, the brandy doesn’t sound bad. Maybe I can work with that.

I think the food bill will be tremendous. Plus, any time you have that amount going in an animal, there will be a proportionate amount dropping out the exit. Yeah. I’m going to need a bigger shovel. Oh well, maybe it will turn into a two kid job. Now I can feel a smile working.

I have enough to do right now without adding more to my to-do list. I have to finish both upcoming novels, The Great Zero Sum and The Dao Factor. There is Zero Sum’s cover on order which Jojo will deliver soon. (By the way, my cover designer is outstanding. Her name is Jojo Shelly, and I’ll post her website address at the bottom of this blog.) I will have a cover reveal as soon as I can. All of this plus the labor of formatting both books into the required formats. It will be my first solo attempt at formatting a novel, so I’m anticipating a few problems what with the learning curve and all. I am also working on the rough draft of the next novel, The Null Factor. I can’t forget my blog. So, the last thing I need is something else that eats up my time. I forgot to mention, I work as a substitute teacher during the week, and that puts a considerable crimp in my time.

I will say two things about the substitute job. There is an absolute satisfaction about working with these kids because I usually work with the classes other substitutes don’t want – discipline problems and disabled kids. It also gives me a chance to study reactions, mannerisms up close, along with keeping tabs on my feelings during all the troubles in the classroom. All of it is good fodder for writing.

Have you signed up for the newsletter yet? It will let you know when I post the next blog. Honestly, that is a good deal. Don’t forget that you can unsubscribe at any time, and most importantly I will not give, or sell your information to anyone. It will be a win for everybody.

If the below links don’t work, you may have to copy and paste them into your browser.

Don’t forget The Sigma Factor. You can find it here.http://Amazon.com:TheSigmaFactor(9781844077310)JWBell

You can find Jojo’s website here.
http://www.neonstarr.nz/home.html

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Get Up Off Your Ass!

We have had a vast job facing us for two or three weeks now. We’re working at training our kids to keep the house clean. A clean home is almost impossible. This is a continuous job and been happening for years, but it’s become intense during the last three weeks.

Be mindful that they are between the ages of three, going on four. (Their birthday is next month.) To two fifteen-year-olds. (They have their unique problems too.) Filling in the space between are smatterings of a couple of tweens (I think that is the current term for ten, eleven, and twelve-year-olds). The tweens are near menarche. The rest of the kids seem to believe they have a license to raise hell (life is but a scream). They take everything apart (with little thought to how it could go back together.) And of course, the younger still think every game they play on an iPad should be shared with the parent (except the sites they know have been banned but their parents.)

But let’s get back to the topic of cleaning. I know it isn’t Spring, so I can’t call it spring-cleaning. I’ll call it hmm … Get Up Off Your Ass and Clean Something! I might as well go with that because that’s the type of action I make them do. Simple but effective. 

It’s the same way with writing for me, except I have to edit the title. I have to say Sit down on Your Ass and Write Something. If you are astute you will notice I changed the punctuation too. That is because I don’t have to scream at myself. Writing is a highlight for me, not a drudge.

Writing is the best way for me to express myself. With that, please don’t jump to the conclusion that I can’t talk; I can do that. I’m not a mime, although I can do that too. By the way, why do mimes populate everything? It seems like they are everywhere, TV, movies, even animated cartoon movies. There are too many. And they certainly don’t have the quality of Marcel Marceau. I mean, anyone can get trapped by an invisible room, it’s not even a novelty anymore. But can they tell a story? Bring you to tears? Give your belly cramps from laughing?

I have expression skills — singing, dancing, acting, and yes, mime too.

I honed them in college. I would have been a performer, were it not for one thing – eating. It is one thing to starve yourself while starting as a performer. It’s quite another thing to ask a family to go hungry while you get your stage legs.

So, what the hell. When I write, I can do all of those things. I do them in my imagination. (Wow, what a concept.) The more realistic my vision, the better my writing.

While I am speaking of writing, the artist making the cover for my new book The Great Zero-Sum is close to finishing it. When she says it is ready, I will reveal the cover for everyone to see. What fun!

I think the cover will entice many of you into buying the book. Look, I know you can’t judge a book by its … well, you know. But it’s done all the time. Can anyone tell me that they haven’t chosen a book because of the cover? Be honest. Yup, I thought so. The job of the cover is to grab your attention. The description on the back clinches the deal, but the cover is what grabs your attention. If the author has a reputation, that will do it too. There lies the reason why authors want on the bestseller lists. Anyway, the first books have to be top-quality to climb onto those lists.

There is another thing I want to mention. I have a new feature on my website. You can now sign up for a newsletter. No, it’s not a weekly published ten-page magazine. What is it then? It’s a way for me to notify you, or anyone that signs up, about a new blog post, maybe a new book that I’ve finished, perhaps one of my colleagues might be ready to publish a beautiful book — things like that.

The important thing is, I will only use your name and email. It won’t be sold to anyone so they can bother you. Yeah, I hate that shit too.

All you have to do is find the subscribe button, click on it, and follow the prompts. The button is on every page, so it’s not hard to find at all. Try it out. Then I’ll send you an email to let you know a new blog post is here. You can always unsubscribe. What do you have to lose?

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Confusing Things

It’s school time and time to work on a different schedule. Everything revolves around the kids’ school schedule. They all wake up early, but not quite as early as me. It’s my job to make sure every one of us navigates the morning without colliding with each other. I don’t always make it happen. I think sure bets are so rare they might be nonexistent. At least they are to me.

This time of year brings both welcome and unwanted things. I think the cooler temperatures will please most people; no one likes extremes. All of the animals seem to enjoy the cool. It also smells better in the house. All of the little rug rats won’t sweat so much, and when they run through the house, they won’t have an odor so much like wet dogs.

It’s amazing. One of the age-old questions – why do sweaty children smell like wet dogs? Okay, we don’t need to mull that. There are better, unanswerable questions. Eh oh… I don’t know. I’ll back up from that right now. The other day, the seven-year-old son asked me, “Why are we here?”

Seven years old. Who says youngsters can’t ponder existence?

From this, I can postulate that children might try to tackle Metaphysics before they wrestle with sexual urges. Now that’s odd/ I have met several women who claim the only thing males think about is the act of procreation. Perhaps the resolution of this puzzle is this answer: reproduction is the true meaning of life. Can’t say yes, can’t say no.

Maybe someday.

How about I turn back to business. The minds of everyone, young and old, don’t turn off. We all wrestle with hard problems. Another example? All right. Things like that usually depend on perspective – up close, or from a distance. The real question is when gazing at them from middle grounds. The compromise of position take on new flavors, the same way unifying the theories of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics appear impossible.

Dichotomies appear everywhere, in every facet of living. Sometimes things seem different, sometimes the same. Why are babies and older men so similar? Aren’t they? They are both frequently bald, have no teeth, and often have a load in their pants. What can I say?

Could it be that nothing changes? Hmm. How about that possibility? If we step back far enough, changing perspective again, there isn’t much difference between one end of the spectrum and the other. It doesn’t matter what the range is either. It can be anything.

If you compare the extreme right-wing with the radical Left-wing in politics, they are both of them way out there, almost photocopies of each other. In that case, the spectrum is more of a circle than a line, and they appear to meet.

Could it be that all extremes meet? What about IQ? Have you ever talked to a real genius? I had a professor in college; the man had several doctoral degrees and could brilliantly speak about anything in his field.

I watched the man walk across campus one day, and he strolled around in every direction, stopping to look at a bush, the sidewalk, and I think the clouds in the sky. He looked like a bonafide idiot. And if you talk to him about something out of his field, he came across almost like a buffoon.

Now let me ask. Have you ever been lucky enough to be around a mental disadvantaged person? They can sit for hours doing a simple task, using their intellect to work out a problem. There is also this: The Dunning Kruger Effect. It is a phenomenon in which smarter people live with the idea that everyone is as intelligent as they. Since they find conclusions easy to come up with, others must too. They have no basis for thinking otherwise. Conversely, people that have impaired or lower intelligence tend to think they are the smartest in the room. We tend to equalize the difference.

So the discord between one end of a continuum and the other might, like liquids, seek their equilibrium. Does the universe self-regulate? Is it its nature to level things? I don’t know.

In my upcoming novel, The Great Zero Sum has themes that address these things. It is action-packed, and there are twists every few chapters. I think you will enjoy it.

If you haven’t picked up my first book, please do. You can find it at:

Barnes and Noble, https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/The+Sigma+Factor?_requestid=10093866

Smashwords, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/806452

Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Sigma-Factor-Book-ebook/dp/B07MPQFD4Y/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?keywords=the+sigma+factorby+j.w.+bell&qid=1566756483&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmr0

Please leave a review. The review doesn’t need to be an epic in itself. Just say you like it, and if you don’t, give an idea why. It only helps everyone — readers, authors, editors, publishers. Everyone.

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The Villain of Infamy

Have you considered how important the antagonist is to a story? A good story needs a bad guy, or girl, as developed as the protagonist. It takes continual conflict between the two throughout the story. The villain must have at least as much chutzpah and skill as the hero, maybe more so. Certainly, they cannot have any less.

The evildoer may, or may not, be present at the beginning of the story , but their effects have to be felt early on. The significance of the mischief-maker becomes more and more pronounced as the story builds, especially so in a thriller or suspense.

The rising action oftentimes lasts the greatest part of the story. It is during this time that the tension ratchets up. I’ve seen this part of stories and novels described with ladders, stair steps, an inclined plane, all sorts of visual aids. The bottom line is this, there has to be an increase of stress or tension to pull the story to a more intense place. Most commonly we refer to it as building action, thus the visualization of the ladders, stairs, et cetera.

This is where your inner stress and conflict begin to eat you up, where it’s not unheard of for a moviegoer to scream, “Watch out!” in the middle of the theater, much to their embarrassment.

This rising action is the reason that novels and movies don’t fit in the three-act structure of the theatre. The first act houses the: action before the story, the exposition, the introduction of characters, and the catastrophe that begins the actual story. The second act houses the rising action and the continual complications of the catastrophe. In a poker game, we would call it upping of the ante. The gambit of increased tension. The third act is where the climax resides. After that is the denouement – the final resolution. Look at it like the unraveling of a skein of yarn that is magically made neat again.

The novel and/or movie doesn’t fit neatly in the three-act form. The rising action continues to build to, and in some cases on, the last page, or the last scene. That way the tension can continue until it is almost unbearable.

A very good friend of mine, a college roommate, once attended the movie Wait Until Dark, an excellent thriller made in 1967. He was on a date and later told me he didn’t want to be embarrassed. While standing in the lobby, waiting for the previous showing to end, he heard a lot of screams near the end of the movie. He made a mental note not to scream because he knew it was coming, and he wanted to look studly, macho.

There was indeed a scary part near the end and when he saw it he was prepared and ready. What he did not know was there were two scary parts, and of course, the second event was much more terror-filled. After he was successful the first time, he relaxed. Then came the final horrifying instant for which he was not prepared. He screamed, “Oh shit!” like a sissy, stood up and ran from the theater. Embarrassing.

Well damn, once again I got sidetracked. I’ll dive back in.

The rapscallion’s effects need to be felt throughout the story, or at least until the climax. This doesn’t mean that the villain has to be alive throughout. Hell, the damned blackguard might have died in the beginning during the catastrophe that started the whole thing, but the effects certainly never end there.

Now here’s the crux. By the end of the rising action, the anti-hero’s effect on the story needs to appear much greater than the hero’s ability to counteract those effects. Then, with a sudden twist, preferably as yet unseen, or perhaps seen before but with insignificant effect, the hero gains the upper-hand and corrects everything, bringing things back in line with the proper world.

The villain needs as much attention to developing infamy as does the hero to altruism. In The Sigma Factor, there are several villains in varying degrees, but two antagonists produce more evil than any of the others. Between them, the world crashes around Ol’ Stan.

I hope many of you took advantage of the sale at Smashwords. $1.50 was not a bad price for an e-book. If you bought, thanks. Now for those of you who only like to read page-turning paper books. I’ve finally succeeded in getting The Sigma Factor into paperback. It has taken this long for me to accomplish this since Rebel ePublishing closed their door. It should be ready by this Friday.

amazon.com/author/jwbell

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Youngsters — Go Figure

Today has been frustrating, the kind of day that raises blood pressure and makes me have trouble seeing. Not the kind of trouble like in a spell of inebriation. This is more like my eyes refused to work the way I wanted them to. I haven’t gone blind or anything (although I tried valiantly to make it so in my youth). No, that isn’t the problem. They simply seemed resistant to viewing the world.

My glorious kids have been such a pain today. We received a Fire Stick in the mail yesterday and after a little time installing it. Well, it would have been a little time. As things happen at my house I had some extra volunteer workers that roamed the living room. Actually I believe it took a couple of hours last night and then another couple of hours this morning. Afterward, I know it’s hard to believe about kids, but they all started fighting, screaming, and crying.

Of course, every one of my ten kids had to be the first to view their show before the others. Yeah, a hell of a morning. None of their chores were done, and I swore, no one was going to pick anything to watch until they had their chore done. No, I mean I swore. I’m good at that, swearing. I practice it a lot, especially when I’m writing, but somehow the kids bring out the best of it. When they are the cause, depending on their age, I night mumble it before and usually after, however, the mid-teens have heard great, vocal rants. I got the equivalent of a graduate degree in it during my stay in the Army.

Anyway, back to the kid’s work ethic. I swear I don’t understand how the idea of a good work ethic became lost on every one of them. Shit fire, they all work harder at not working than they ever do while working. It was the same thing with baths a few years ago. They all worked super hard, spent hours at not taking a bath because they didn’t want to take the time to be clean. What in actual steamy piles of shit are they thinking? These are issues from my loins?

It has been several years, no decades, well all right scores of years since I was a child, so I think my memory may have faded, probably like a piece of black cloth left in the sun all summer long.

Son-of-a-bitch. They’re quiet this second.

Okay, it was a nano-second. Budding arguments are blooming all over right now. It’s what kids do.

Soon the older ones will step into their position in society that all teenagers do. I think it is instinct. I have read that the only true instinct is the urge to suckle. I do not doubt that suckling is an instinct. Hell, I haven’t been weaned yet. But there is another instinct equally as compelling. I’m talking about the need for the younger generation to bug the living shit out of every generation that has gone before them. We all had our shot at it. My generation grew long hair, corrected the political process, and stopped all wars. That shit worked out, huh? I think more than half of the Nimrods in Congress are my generation. Go figure.

Oh well, whatever this next generation does, I’m sure it will leave a mark – one way or another. The only questions now are how much it will hurt and who will do the hurting? None of this matters in the long run. Things happen and then we either remember them or not. If we do, we learn from the situation. If we don’t the whole thing is relegated to a dream or some dark recess of the brain.

That long-forgotten place may also be where creativity resides. You know, that mysterious force that makes writers crazy with their compulsion to write, makes all artist crave work in their field of arts and causes them sleepless nights.

Ah, I’m back to creativity. It makes the world grow and in the long run, gives peace to everyone. Necessity was never the mother of invention. It’s the need to create.

Please don’t forget my book The Sigma Factor is half price at Smashwords.com For those of you that haven’t gotten it and read it, please get it. It took me a year and a half to write it so you could read it in a day. I don’t think $1.50 is too much to pay.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=JwBell

Give me and my editor hugs. Review it. You don’t have to finish reading it and you don’t have to write an essay. Just say you liked it, or why you didn’t like it. Hugs are wonderful.

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What?

This last week had one of my favorite holidays. I love the fourth of July. I can feel the electricity of the day as it builds to the end for the climax of expended fireworks with everyone oohing and ahhing. Who doesn’t like fireworks? I know it’s my children’s favorite. I think they love the boom and bang of the stuff more than the beauty of all explosions in the air. Personally, I like the colors and patterns more than the bang. I am a Field Artilleryman. I love a good, loud boom, the kind you can feel in your chest, but such is an occupational hazard – after living with artillery — fireworks are dimmed.

Of course, the nighttime display is only meant to represent the Revolutionary War. In that respect, it shines bright.

Anyway, the Fourth of July is always a special day. I sat outside with the kids, watching the sky for the colorful explosions while swatting mosquitoes. The kids ran around like heathens, zipping every which way, doing what kids always do when let loose. I think they make more noise than the explosions. There was no need to have them be quiet (we live in the country)and everyone was happy.

All of us had fun with the zinging and popping, then we looked to the sky and watched fireworks. Oh, there was a small typo in that last sentence – pooping, not popping. What can a person do? I’d rather smell spent gunpowder than excrement, but life goes on.

The twins tired of the show about the time I did and we retired to the living room where the true spectacle of the Macy’s fireworks filled the television screen. Ah, the life of a kid is one of the extremes. One minute running and jumping with joy outside, the next quiet and subdued.

I think every kid can change their mood while spinning on a gnat’s ass. They proclaim hate for their siblings just seconds after spontaneous hugs and kisses. They embody gusto and fun. Maybe I should change that to – they embody the outward display of gusto and fun. When you reach my age, your gusto and fun rush around on the inside. Not all the time, but a significant percentage of the time. I can hum to myself, have a virtual party inside, even have fun without smiling.

How about satisfaction?

That’s tricky. I can be satisfied in one sense, say, when I finish a novel, but not in another sense, like how I can let that novel sit for a brief span of time, pick it up and voila! I don’t like it at all. I mean what the hell happened? Let’s not confuse this with one of my readers who gets satisfaction every time they read my book.

I feel satisfied every time I read The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s one of my favorite books.

So, how can the same word describe all of those feelings? It doesn’t matter. We can just accept that it does.

Do you know what I really like to do? I love dredging up things, writing them down, and mixing them up until they take on different meanings, sometimes dramatic, sometimes clever. What makes it so delightful to me is that it at times results in pure, unadulterated, horseshit. The sum of all the hard skull-work may be the result of nothing in, is nothing out.

So how are all the different worlds created inside of books? Is everyone a genius? Was Mozart a genius? Of course, he was, but that doesn’t mean that everyone that writes is a virtuoso of words.

What happens is enormous sweat and toil (no not in the bedroom) although that may help with creativity. The work happens everywhere, at times with a pencil, other times with a computer. I mean everywhere, while driving, maybe swimming, even while lovemaking; sometimes greater things happen if you don’t keep your mind on what you are doing. Perhaps the only time ever that wives refrain from complaining about their hubbies not paying attention. Such is life.

My wife thinks, uh, I don’t know. Since I need hearing aids, I’m sure she blames my not reacting to her words on my bum ears. Even before my hearing went south, though, she complained that I never pay attention. That is in fact wrong. Some of those times the voice in my head was saying, “I have to remember what she’s saying … I have to remember what she’s saying … I have to remember what –

Unfortunately, all I remembered was that I had to remember what she said. So even when I tried to soak in what she’d uttered, the evil winds of whatever wouldn’t let me. Maybe I should say someone shuffled the cards and took one or two away, so it wouldn’t be in the cards. I don’t know. It’s a conspiracy. The Universe simply does not allow husbands to listen to everything wives say. I’m sorry.

I do tell my wife I’m sorry a lot. Usually, I try to time it so that it coincides with when she is totally absorbed in her favorite television show. That way I can just smile to myself because I know she doesn’t hear me. Wait, maybe she does. I know she can think of several different things at the same time.

I worked my way through college in a restaurant and one day during that time I watched five women come into the restaurant. They sat down and talked the entire time they were there. I will never forget them, because they all talked about different things, and answered each other when called upon to do so. Not one time did any of them lose their place in any one of the five conversations. Damnedest thing I ever saw. All I know is, I wouldn’t want to get in an argument with any of them. They would be pulling shit out of the past with the greatest of ease and I would just have to stand there and slump my shoulders and shuffle away when they were finished.

Did any of you remember to drop by Smashwords.com and check out the book sale? Remember it lasts for the entire month of July. Just click on the link below and see that fantastic thriller of mine, and for less than two dollars to boot. you wont regret it.
ps://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=JwBell