23 September 2014

A bunch of stuff I don't know what to do with! Please help!

Welcome to Autumn!

As everyone knows, today is the first day of autumn (or spring if you're a southern hemisphere person [but what really is south, anyway?]), the time of the year when I begin a new year. I know it goes against everything I've been told in my life, but I prefer to clear out the cobwebs of the year just as summer turns to autumn, to better prepare myself for the lovely hardships to come as autumn grinds into winter and winter tries our souls.

(Those who require more autumnal reverie would do well to click over to Connie J. Jasperson's blog here!)

So I shall try to clear out the random notes I've collected during the preceding year. Often I simply copy and paste some clever words seen on social media or elsewhere on the vast whiteboard known as the internet. Sometimes I have a profound thought myself but I'm not awake enough to type it coherently. Whatever I save, I usually do not try to interpret right away.

Now would be a good time to see what is useful. They may be useful for you, as well. Help yourself!

RANDOM NOTES from 2014

Remember: If it's not worth writing about, it's not worth doing.

If you're not going to write about it, why do it?

If you would just write what you do...that'd be great.


1. supposably = I suppose I am able
2. For all intensive purposes = this is for those purposes which are intense
3. irregardless = not regardless = regardful
4. I could care less = I could care less but I choose not to
5. Expresso = expressing oneself with a complex coffee order
6. Pacifically = referring to the Pacific Ocean
7. Ex cetera = used to be similar
8. I seen it. = I used to see it but not any more.
9. Of upmost importance = the person at the top of the ladder
10. I need to lay down = someone with a duck feather fetish


A Bunny a Day Keeps the Blahs Away!


“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you’re lucky.”
Alan Moore


“Thy soul shall find itself alone
’Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone—
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,
Which is not loneliness—for then
The spirits of the dead who stood
In life before thee are again
In death around thee—and their will
Shall overshadow thee: be still. [...]”

 Edgar Allan Poe, Spirits of the Dead: Tales and Other Poems


Ich will gar nicht wissen, was ich alles nicht weiß.

I do not even want to know what I do not know everything.


acosmist - One who believes that nothing exists
paralian - A person who lives near the sea
aureate - Pertaining to the fancy or flowery words used by poets
dwale - To wander about deliriously
sabaism - The worship of stars
dysphoria - An unwell feeling
aubade - A love song which is sung at dawn
eumoirous - Happiness due to being honest and wholesome
mimp - To speak in a prissy manner, usually with pursed lips

Used in a sentence (by Yours Truly):

It comes as no surprise to the paralian acosmist that when one seeks to dwale or partake of sabaism, a certain dysphoria may be confused for an aureate aubade; unless, of course, one's eumoirous mimp remains mimetically disjuncted.


" 그냥 좋은 걸로 만족하는가? 좋은 것이 있고, 가장 좋은 것도 얻을수 있는데."

" Why settle for Good when Better is available and Best is achievable?"


Query letter (first draft)

Dear whoever,
Attached is my great masterpiece that I'm sure you're gonna love so much. It really rocks!
While you get this into print, please be advised I'm writing another book which I just know you're gonna absolutely love, too!
Please forward my banking info to the lucky publisher you find for my books and they can maybe start sending my advance on royalties because I'm, like, really poor at the moment but I got vacation plans to deal with.
Thanks a bunch!!!


vampires. they're like chiggers but sexier.




8 to 10 servings


1 head romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped, divided
1 cup frozen peas, divided
½ red onion, finely diced, divided
12 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced, divided
1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, divided

For the Dressing:

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients; set aside.

2. Place one-third of the lettuce in the bottom of a trifle dish. Top with one-third each of the peas, red onion, bacon, hard-boiled egg, cheese and green onions. Spread one-third of the dressing over the top.

3. Repeat layers again, ending with the dressing.

4. For the last set of layers, begin again with the lettuce, peas and red onion, then cover with the remaining dressing. Top the dressing with the bacon, hard-boiled egg, cheese and green onions. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. 


#bestkeptsecret   (hashtag for promoting books that have fallen below 4,000,000 in Amazon rank)


So shocking not even Yoda could unsee them!



Final homework assignment
No due date

Please be happy.

By the time you are ready to turn in this assignment, I will probably be in heaven.
Don’t rush your report. Feel free to take your time.
But someday, please turn to me and say “I did it. I’ve become happy.”
I’ll be waiting.


The apotheosis of the form.

Beethoven #5
Tchaikovsky #6
Mahler #10
Sibelius #2
Shostakovich #5
Dvorak #5
Prokofiev #1
Brahms #3
Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique
Nielsen #4


Dis-moi qui t'admire et je te dirai qui tu es.

Charles Auguste SAINTE-BEUVE, Causeries du lundi, 20 avril 1850

Tell me who admires you and I'll tell you who you are.


“It is easy, when you are young, to believe that what you desire is no less than what you deserve, to assume that if you want something badly enough , it is your God-given right to have it...I was a raw youth who mistook passion for insight and acted according to an obscure, gap-ridden logic. I thought climbing the Devils Thumb would fix all that was wrong with my life. In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams. And I lived to tell my tale.”

Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild



"At least I got to experience pregnancy."


(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

12 September 2014

What language are we speaking today? Understanding the worlds of Stephen Swartz

As he has often stated, Author Stephen Swartz has always been fascinated by other places and other cultures and languages. That life-long interest translates into the kind of stories he writes, full of exotic locations and smatterings of other cultures and their languages. In that sense, every novel he has written has certain attributes which can be easily cataloged. For example, each novel has characters who use languages other than English. As a linguist, Swartz enjoys dabbling in that intersection of culture and language. Each novel has exotic locations, as well, including another planet. 

To keep them clear, I've created this handy-dandy chart--just as any good archivist would. 

A Beautiful Chill
Literary/ Romance
Wichita, Kansas;
Padre Island, Texas;
Toronto, Canada;
Akureyri & Reykjavik, Iceland - 1999-2000
English, Icelandic
Boy meets younger wrong girl
After Ilium
Literary/ Adventure
Greece, Aegean Sea, Istanbul & the ruins of Troy, Turkey - 1993
English, Turkish, Greek
Boy meets older wrong girl
The Dream Land I, Long Distance Voyager
Sci-Fi/ Steampunk
Kansas City, Missouri; various places on planet Ghoupallesz - Earth time: 1975-1983
English, Ghoupallean, Zetin, Roue
Boy loses girl, finds another
The Dream Land II, Dreams of Future’s Past
Sci-Fi/ Steampunk
Kansas City, Missouri; various places on planet Ghoupallesz - Earth time: 1983-1986
English, French, Ghoupallean, Zetin, Roue, Danid
Boy searches for girl, loses everything else
The Dream Land III, Diaspora
Sci-Fi/ Steampunk
Kansas City, Missouri; various places on planet Ghoupallesz - Earth time: 1989-1993
English, Ghoupallean, Zetin, Roue, Danid, Kobareli
Girl doesn't look for boy but there's a comet coming anyway
A Dry Patch of Skin 
(coming Fall 2014)
Literary/ Horror
Oklahoma City; Utica, New York; New Orleans;
Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Croatia - 2012-2014
English, French, Dutch, German, Hungarian, Croatian
Boy meets skin disease, fears losing girl

(coming in 2015)
Literary/ Romance
Nagoya & Ishikawa, Japan - 1986-1991
English, Japanese
Boy loses girl, finds their daughter
Year of the Tiger
(coming in 2015)
Literary/ Adventure
Kansas City, Missouri;
India: Bombay, Jaipur & other locations - 1986
English, Hindi
Boy meets tiger
A Time of Kings 
(coming in 2016)
Sci-Fi/ Fantasy
Kingdom of Chicago and other locations in the lands of the Americus - 2990-3089
English, French, Spanish, Arabic
Brothers meet their fates

Boldface = available now in print or for Kindle, or coming this fall.

I hope this chart will provide useful information to aid you in choosing your next reading club selection or something delightful to escape reality on some weekend. Happy reading!

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

04 September 2014

Is there a Message in this Novel?

[NOTE: Last time, I shared a report about my brief visit to Seoul, South Korea while I lived in Japan, working as an English teacher. The experience happened more than 20 years ago and when giving it the once-over of revision before posting it, I realized how dated it was. It also may have had a tinge of "cultural imperialism"--although I tried to express positive things about the culture I was experiencing along with what my negative impressions were. I hope I did not offend anyone, especially anyone from Korea or of Korean heritage. My subsequent visits to Korea were quite different and very positive.]

That brings me to the issue of the day: Politics, Social mores, Cultural memes. I might as well throw in mention of all the chaos happening around the world today. Well, for most of this year. Online, friends and colleagues (not necessarily the same) are quick to state or "restate/reblog/share" political and social views. Others are quite quick to respond either superficially (I tend toward a quick sarcastic bit) or, occasionally, with well-considered, even researched, responses that invite further thought regardless of the position of a reader.

I've never been what I would call a politically-minded person. Mostly that comes from my uncertainty of knowing everything I would need to know to make a valid decision on some issue. Also, being someone who purports to teach Argument, I try to present all sides equally, if only to provoke students to seeing sides they had not considered. As a novel writer I also live in a schizophrenic world of multiple characters, each with their own views, positions, and agendas. It can be quite maddening--which is partly why I blog (insert "LOL"). But in light of writing a fictional work supposedly full of realistic personas, we have to accept that, though invented, they must also come with political positions and social agendas.

And so, what do we make of fiction where the characters bring their own politics? Many writers use their characters to present or promote certain ideas. Nothing wrong with that; ideas should be presented. Of course, creative writing teachers preach that there should be no preaching in a story or novel. I say, preaching cannot be excluded if it comes in the form of a character's pontificating. A fine line, yes, but if a character is that type of person, the author must let the character speak freely. And that, friends, brings us to moralizing.

Sorry to say, but I've been thinking about my latest novel, A DRY PATCH of SKIN, and the "moralizing" that comes through in the protagonist's voice. His ideas and the way he speaks of them is steeped in the Western tradition, certainly. In fact, the Judeo-Christian influence on Western Civilization is embedded in the narrative. At first Stefan Szekely refers to "the gods" as though it was an everyday meme. Gradually he switches to "God"--the one and only. Still later, he is directly arguing with God, who he believes has cursed him and his family line. He soon is making deals with God--whether God is in the sky above him or merely in his head, he believes.

By the end this novel may seem like a Christian allegory, but it was never intended to be that. Rather, it is Stefan, the hero, Byronic as he may be, who comes to believe the illusions he has convinced himself are true. He never insists others believe as he does, never chastises others for not believing as he does, and in the end, what is real and what is in his mind are only known to him--and to his confused author.

So is that what I believe? Hard to say. I was drilled with the Bible and those Judeo-Christian beliefs, and schooled in their influence on Western Civilization. I think we have to accept our Western Civilization, for better or worse, as a product of that religious entrenchment--even as I have explored around its edges and found both positive and negative things as alternatives to that religious dogma. It is in my background, my upbringing, my family history, but I like to think I am above all of that "indoctrination." And yet, when inventing characters, I fall back on what I have learned or been exposed to and apply it to a character or two, just to make them more real, more believable.

So what do I believe? As a writer, I have thought long and hard about many, many issues over the years. It's difficult to find the one perfect mantra that will enable everything else in my life to swirl around me in perfect order. Also as a writer, I seem to have fallen back, in these older years of mine, onto author and critic John Gardner's idea in On Moral Fiction: the position that "moral" in fiction is a turn toward life and life-affirming narratives (“True art is moral. We recognize true art by its careful, thoroughly honest search for an analysis of values. It is not didactic because, instead of teaching by authority and force, it explores, open-mindedly, to learn what it should teach. It clarifies like an experiment in a chemistry lab, and confirms.”). 

Postmodernism, however, has flipped that around so we get so many stories of death and destruction, fragmentation and dissolution, fear and loathing, and more tragedy than "life-affirming" conclusions. Seemingly for the sake of disrupting the psyche. Or it's all for the sake of the drama. 

Perhaps, I'm the one who's off balance. I grew up with one foot on each side of the great divide, so I see the Utopian stories of my youth and today's Dystopian stories. I believe that a tragic ending can still show us a better way, a "moral" view of the human condition. I also believe that, regardless of one's personal religious, spiritual, political, or social positions, views, beliefs, agendas, everyone wants to live, be happy, be free to pursue happiness, and, at the same time, not fear any harm to self, family, or others of one's community. Or perhaps my neighbor said it best: "I just wanna play WOW* all day and not be f***ed with!"

Perhaps that is simple enough without getting all moralizing and stuff.

For a fun exercise in fictional moralizing, I recommend THE DREAM LAND Trilogy, set in part on another world and, as such, includes alternate religious beliefs, deities, and doctrines--all of which directly impact why and how the people there do what they do. In the third volume, such religiosity serious compromises the population's attempts to evacuate the planet in advance of a lethal comet strike.

Enjoy your week, and many happy weekends to you!

(*World of Warcraft, a computer game in which players take on military roles and seek to kill the enemy.)

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.